robertogreco + culture   3018

Happiness Is Other People - The New York Times
"And according to research, if we want to be happy, we should really be aiming to spend less time alone. Despite claiming to crave solitude when asked in the abstract, when sampled in the moment, people across the board consistently report themselves as happier when they are around other people than when they are on their own. Surprisingly this effect is not just true for people who consider themselves extroverts but equally strong for introverts as well."
happiness  psychology  culture  2017  solitude  ruthwhippman  anxiety  individualism  society  community  self-care 
9 days ago by robertogreco
Aesop's Anthropology | Theorizing culture across species lines
[now a book:
https://www.upress.umn.edu/book-division/books/aesopas-anthropology

"Aesop’s Anthropology is a guide for thinking through the perplexing predicaments and encounters that arise as the line between human and nonhuman shifts in modern life. Recognizing that culture is not unique to humans, John Hartigan Jr. asks what we can learn about culture from other species. He pursues a variety of philosophical and scientific ideas about what it means to be social using cultural dynamics to rethink what we assume makes humans special and different from other forms of life. Through an interlinked series of brief essays, Hartigan explores how we can think differently about being human."]
johnhartiganjr  multispecies  morethanhuman  anthropology  culture  philosophy  science  books  toread 
22 days ago by robertogreco
Latino Cultures in the US — Google Arts & Culture
"Discover the contributions and experiences of Latinos in the United States"

[via: "Google Just Launched One of the Largest Digital Collections of Latino Art & History"
http://remezcla.com/lists/culture/google-latino-cultures-in-the-us/

"In 1969, Raphael Montañez Ortiz founded El Museo del Barrio to provide a platform for the Latino art that mainstream museums ignored. Since then, things have changed. This fall, for example, LA museums will showcase an unprecedented number of exhibitions that explore the connections between Latin America and Los Angeles. But despite these strides, we still remain woefully underrepresented at these institutions. For years, Latino members of Congress have pushed for a national Latino museum (though the idea first emerged in the mid-1990s) without success. Because we also don’t often see ourselves accurately depicted in film, media, and even in US history classes across the country, many Latinos aren’t able to access their own histories. But a new Google Arts & Culture collection is hoping to correct this imbalance. Launched on September 7, Latino Cultures in the US is one of the largest digital collections of Latino art, culture, and history.

Google collaborated with about 50 institutions, including the Smithsonian Latino Center, UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center, California State Archives, and Miami Dade College. The collection features more than 2,500 pieces of art through 90 exhibits. (Google is also creating curriculums so that more students can learn about Latino history, the company reports.) The digital collection is impressive and much-needed, but it’s still incomplete because it doesn’t capture every facet of our identities."]
latinos  art  arts  culture  digital  collections  history  us 
28 days ago by robertogreco
The Great Africanstein Novel | by Namwali Serpell | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books
"The title of Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi’s magisterial first novel, Kintu—first published in Kenya in 2014, then in the US this year by the Oakland-based press Transit Books—is a Luganda word. Luganda is a Bantu language spoken in Uganda; Bantu is a proto-language that just means people; there are languages derived from it all across the African continent. In Zambia, where I’m from, we spell this word chinthu. In both countries, it is pronounced chin-two and it means “thing.” In ancient Buganda mythology, however, Kintu is also the name of the first man, the equivalent to the Judeo-Christian Adam. The implications of this titular oxymoron—a word that means both “thing” and “man”—begin to unfold in the opening pages of Makumbi’s book.

There’s a knock at the door. A woman opens it to four local officials, who rouse her man, Kamu, from sleep and lead him outside for questioning. He assumes they’re there on behalf of a creditor but when they reach a marketplace, they bind his hands. Kamu protests: “Why are you tying me like a thief?” A mob swirls into being like a weather formation, the word thief flying “from here to there, first as a question then as a fact.” Kicks and blows begin to rain down on him, from both the elderly and the young. Arrivals to the scene ask, “‘Is it a thief?’ because Kamu had ceased to be human.” He tries to hold on to his humanity: “Kamu decided he was dreaming. He was Kamu Kintu, human. It was them, bantu. Humans. He would wake up any minute.” He does not.

The account of Kamu’s abrupt, arbitrary death on Monday, January 5, 2004, and the subsequent fate of his corpse in the bureaucratic torpor of Kampala’s morgue, recurs in short fragments at the start of each of the novel’s five sections, which tell the stories of other members of the scattered Kintu clan. First, we jump back three centuries to its first generation, headed by Kintu Kidda, a ppookino, or governor, of the Buddu province in the eighteenth-century Buganda Kingdom. In a moment of irritation, Kintu slaps his adopted son, a Rwandan, and the boy falls down dead. His men bury the body improperly: “the grave was narrow and shallow. They used a stick to measure Kalema’s length, but while the stick fit into the grave, Kalema did not. They crammed him in.” In their haste, the men do not even realize that they have buried the boy beside a burial shrub for dogs. The tragic repercussions of this desecration—“the curse was specific: mental illness, sudden death, and suicide”—ripple across the centuries through the lives of Kintu’s descendants.

Like Charles Dickens or Gabriel García Márquez, Makumbi ranges widely across time and social strata; her knowledge of Ugandan culture seems as precise as a historian’s. We meet Suubi Kintu, a young woman who grows up in a compound, perpetually on the brink of starvation, but is eventually integrated into a middle-class family. Kanani Kintu and his wife, Faisi, members of an evangelical group, the Awakened, bear a twin son and daughter with an uncomfortably close relationship. Isaac Newton Kintu, the product of rape and named for the last lesson his mother learned in school before she dropped out, gets trapped into marriage; when his wife dies, seemingly of AIDS, he anguishes over whether to learn his own HIV status. Miisi Kintu, a writer raised by colonial priests (the “white fathers”) and educated abroad, returns to a postcolonial Kampala still feeling the aftershocks of dictatorship and the bush war of the early Eighties, which killed some of his children. With its progression through generations and its cyclical returns to genetic inheritance—hay fever, twins, madness—Kintu’s structure feels epic.

Kintu continually diverts us from this straightforward path of a curse and its aftermath, however, as well as from our preconceptions about Africa. The polygamous eighteenth-century governor wants nothing more than to be with the woman he loves; the Awakened couple experience their enviably passionate sex life as a torment; the spiritual leader of a ritual cleansing is so “anglicized” that the assembled family members doubt his efficacy. Social class is defined neither by strict stratification nor by upward mobility, but by extreme volatility—economic fates rise and fall almost at random. Servant girls become educated women, sons of professors come to live in slums.

Makumbi’s depiction of local culture also bears little resemblance to standard notions of African “authenticity.” Her Uganda is an unabashed amalgam of Europe and Africa, in everything from cooking to spiritual possession to mental health to sexual mores. As Makumbi said in an interview:
We are both Europeanized and Ugandan. We speak both traditional languages and English. Someone goes to church, but then will go to the traditional healer. Someone is a scientist but will have an intense spiritual life. We have this saying in Uganda: “God help me, but I’m going to run as well.” We think two ways at once.

In the novel, Miisi conjures an image of African postcolonialism that captures this sensibility. He pictures the black torso of the continent but stripped of its limbs, which have been replaced with European ones. “We cannot go back to the operating table and ask for the African limbs,” he writes. “Africa must learn to walk on European legs and work with European arms. As time goes by, children will be born with evolved bodies.” Makumbi’s portmanteau for this Gothic image enacts the very grafting it describes: Africanstein.

Kintu cannot but be in some sense the story of a people, the Ganda, and a nation, Uganda. But its politics are personal. Idi Amin and the bush wars emerge in conversation, in acts of mourning. The ins and outs of the ancient Buganda Kingdom’s secessions and coups seem incidental to the personal tragedy of Kintu Kidda, his wives, and their children. Makumbi has said that she intentionally skipped the nation’s colonial history: “The almost complete lack of colonization was deliberate…. To me colonization was my grandfather’s quarrel.” So, without the usual lenses of class, culture, and colonialism—without “Queen and Country,” so to speak—how are we to read this “African” novel?"



"Oddly enough, despite all this generalizing and pigeonholing, African writers are rarely thought to speak to the universal—in the philosophical sense rather than the platitudinous one. But if, as Makumbi noted at an event in Brooklyn last June, the origin of the human species is probably East Africa, then why can’t Kampala be the center of a profoundly universal inquiry? As its two-faced title—man/thing—suggests, Kintu does in fact have a grand philosophical question in mind. The novel forces us to reckon over and again with what it means to be kintu, to be man, or human. This question plays out across certain boundaries: between men and women, between twins, between life and death, between “mankind” and “animalkind,” between good and evil, between human and supernatural worlds, between foreigners and family, and, of course, between humans and objects."



"Miisi completely loses his grip on reality and starts wearing a Western-style waistcoat and coat over his kanzu. In his dishevelment, he comes to resemble his ancestor with that strange thing/person name, Kintu. Miisi becomes a man “floating in two worlds.” Which two worlds? Boyhood and manhood, past and present, muntu and muzungu, Europe and Africa? “I know who I am,” Miisi tells his daughter, “We are not even Hamites. We are Bantu.” But she thinks, “He is now a different person.” In the end, he is riven by his divisions, “in the middle world between sanity and insanity.”

To survive being human, Kintu suggests, is to hold all these divisions together, gently, to “just be.” This argument about personhood is radical because it rejects a long philosophical tradition of considering “humanity” as a matter of self-containment and integrity, of what the human excludes. It is also radical because Makumbi centers this argument in Uganda. But what better place, with its arbitrarily sketched borders, its pliable myths and cultures, its originary status—cradle of the first human/thing—to stage an interrogation of personhood? As Makumbi has remarked in passing about living as an immigrant in the UK: “Out here you are Ugandan. At home you are just human.”"
jennifernansubugamakumbi  namwaliserpell  books  literature  kintu  kampala  ugnda  africaisnotacountry  2017  toread  universal  universalism  humans  humanism  objects  betweenness  seams  gender  supernatural  middleground  gray  grey  humanity  personhood  integrity  self-containment  borders  identity  myth  culture  sexuality  history  colonialism  postcolonialism  human  colonization  europe  decolonization  frankenstein  africanstein  africa  africans  twins  multispecies  morethanhuman  life  living  philosophy  divisions  interstitial  liminality  liminalspaces  liminalstates  between 
29 days ago by robertogreco
Felipe Vera - Urbanismo Efimero - YouTube
"Charla en Scola da Cidade sobre ciudades temporales y el Kumbh Mela."

[1:41:33] "Déjame ver si entendí la pregunta. Me está preguntando cuáles con ls implicancias del urbanismo efímero para el tema patrimonial, en resumen? … Una cosa muy interesante, yo creo, es que nosotros tendemos en pensar en temas de conservación como temas de conservación de lo material. Estos caso del urbanismo efímero, cuando uno lo analiza, se da cuenta que el valor está en la práctica, en la praxis, en la conservación de maneras particulares de o bien reconstruir una ciudad o bien construir un ídolo y llevarlo y botarlo en un lugar para que se disvuelva o bien reformular todos los pasajes y cambiar la funcionalidad de algunos espacios urbanos. Entonces, lo que es interesante, yo creo que es interesante esto, sí ahora para las ciudades permanentes es decir en algún minuto vamos a tener que entender que la preservación arquitectónica no tiene que ver con parar el tiempo y con dejar que las cosas no se muevan, sino que va a tener que ver con como durar el cambio, modular el cambio a través de la memoria. Y en una formulación de ese tipo, pensar en la preservación como una práctica y no como la preservación de la forma y yo creo que nos pueda ayudar a desarollar nuevas estrategias."

[Translation (mine, quickly)]: "Let me see if I understand the question. In summary, you are asking me what are the implications of ephemeral urbanism with regard to cultural heritage? … Something very interesting, I think, is that when we think about conservation we tend to think about it in terms of the material. When you analyze these cases of ephemeral urbanism, you realize that the value is in the practice — the praxis — in the conservation of particular ways of things like rebuilding a city or constructing an idol and taking it and throwing it in a place that will make it dissolve, or reformulating all the passages and changing the function of some urban spaces. Then, what is interesting, I think, is to think about this for permanent cities and how at some time we are going to have to think about architectural preservation not as stopping time or preventing things from moving, but rather how to persist through change, how to manage change through memory. And think about preservation through practice and not the preservation of the form and I think that can help us develop new strategies."]

[More related bookmarks collected here:
https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:76144fff16c5 ]
felipevera  architecture  2015  ephemerality  ephemeral  kumbhmela  india  praxis  practice  heritage  conservation  preservation  culture  urbanism  urbanplanning  urbandesign  cities  design  process  craft  rahulmehrotra  memory  change 
4 weeks ago by robertogreco
New Book Argues That Hunter-Gatherers May Be Happier Than Wealthy Westerners : Goats and Soda : NPR
"There's an idea percolating up from the anthropology world that may make you rethink what makes you happy.

The idea is not new. It surfaced in the popular consciousness back in the late 1960s and helped to galvanize a growing environmental movement.

And now several books are bringing it back into the limelight.

The idea is simple: Perhaps the American and European way of living isn't the pinnacle of human existence. Humanity hasn't been marching — in a linear fashion — toward some promised land. Perhaps, Western society isn't some magical state in which technology free us from the shackles of acquiring basic needs and allows us to maximize leisure and pleasure.

Instead, maybe, modernization has done just the opposite. Maybe the most leisurely days of humanity are behind us — way, way behind us.

"Did our hunter-gatherers have it better off?" James Lancester asks in a recent issue of The New Yorker. [https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/09/18/the-case-against-civilization ]

"We're flattering ourselves by believing that their existence was so grim and that our modern, civilized one is, by comparison, so great," Lancester writes.

This idea surfaces, over and over again, in the fascinating new book by anthropologist James Suzman, called Affluence Without Abundance.

Suzman has spent the past 25 years visiting, living with and learning from one of the last groups of hunter-gatherers left on Earth — the Khoisan or Bushmen in the Kalahari Desert of Namibia.

A study back in the 1960s found the Bushmen have figured out a way to work only about 15 hours each week acquiring food and then another 15 to 20 hours on domestic chores. The rest of the time they could relax and focus on family, friends and hobbies.

In Suzman's new book, he offers rare glimpses of what life was like in this efficient culture — and what life was like for the vast majority of humans' evolution.

What we think of as "modern humans" have likely been on Earth for about 200,000 years. And for about 90 percent of that time we didn't have stashes of grains in the cupboard or ready-to-slaughter meat grazing outside our windows. Instead, we fed ourselves using our own two feet: by hunting wild animals and gathering fruits and tubers.

As people have diverged so widely from that hunter-gatherer lifestyle, maybe we've left behind elements of life that inherently made us happy. Maybe the culture of "developed" countries, as we so often say at Goats and Soda, has left holes in our psyche.

Suzman's experiences make him uniquely qualified to address such philosophical questions and offer suggestions on how to fill in the gap. So we spoke to him about his new book.

What do you think of this idea that the hunter-gatherer way of living makes people the happiest they can be? Is there anything that suggests this to be the case?

Look, the Bushman's society wasn't a Garden of Eden. In their lives, there are tragedies and tough times. People would occasionally fight after drinking.

But people didn't continuously hold themselves hostage to the idea that the grass is somehow greener on the other side — that if I do X and Y, then my life will be measurably improved.

So their affluence was really based on having a few needs that were simply met. Just fundamentally they have few wants — just basic needs that were easily met. They were skilled hunters. They could identify a hundred different plants species and knew exactly which parts to use and which parts to avoid. And if your wants are limited, then it's just very easy to meet them.

By contrast, the mantra of modern economics is that of limited scarcity: that we have infinite wants and limited means. And then we work and we do stuff to try and bridge the gap.

In fact, I don't even think the Bushman have thought that much about happiness. I don't think they have words equivalent to "happiness" like we think of. For us, happiness has become sort of aspirational.

Bushmen have words for their current feelings, like joy or sadness. But not this word for this idea of "being happy" long term, like if I do something, then I'll be "happy" with my life long term.

The Bushmen have a very different sense of time than we do in Western culture. In the book, you say we think of time as linear and in constant change, while they think of it as cyclical and predictable. Do you think that makes them happier?

This is one of the big, big differences between us and hunter-gatherer cultures. And I'm amazed that actually more anthropologists haven't written about it.

Everything in our lives is kind of future-oriented. For example, we might get a college degree so we can get a job, so that we can get a pension. For farmers it was the same way. They planted seeds for the harvest and to store.

But for hunter-gatherers, everything was present-oriented. All their effort was focused on meeting an immediate need.

They were absolutely confident that they would be able to get food from their environment when they needed it. So they didn't waste time storing or growing food. This lifestyle created a very different perspective on time.

People never wasted time imagining different futures for themselves or indeed for anybody else.

Everything we do now is rooted in this constant and enduring change, or our history. We look at ourselves as being part of our history, or this trajectory through time.

The hunter-gatherers just didn't bother locating themselves in history because stuff around them was pretty much always the same. It was unchanging.

Yes, there might be different trees sprouting up year after year. Or things in the environment change from season to season. But there was a systemic continuity to everything.

I think that it's a wonderful, extraordinary thing. I think it's something we can never get back — this different way of thinking about something as fundamental as time.

It manifests in very small ways. For example, I would ask them what their great grandfather's name was and some people would just say, "I don't know." They just simply didn't care. Everything was so present-focused.

Today people [in Western societies] go to mindfulness classes, yoga classes and clubs dancing, just so for a moment they can live in the present. The Bushmen live that way all the time!

And the sad thing is, the minute you're doing it consciously, the minute it ceases to be.

It's like making the perfect tennis shot. You can know all the theory in the world about how to play tennis. But to make the perfect shot, it's a profoundly physical thing. It's subconscious.

So the Bushmen held the secret to mindfulness and living in moment. Is that key to their happiness?

There is this supreme joy we get in those moments, you know, when time sort of disappears.

I felt that way when I was younger, and I used to go clubbing and dancing. Time disappeared. There was no earlier that day and no tomorrow.

So is there a way people can get this hunter-gatherer sense of time back? To live in the moment subconsciously?

I think there are some things in modern life that can fill in the gap left by not connecting with nature the way hunter-gatherers did.

I think sports can help fill this void or going on long hikes. You can also lose sense of time by doing activities which give you a great sense of purposed fullness and satisfaction, such as crafts, painting and writing.

After spending so much time with the Bushmen, does Western society just seem crazy?

Ha, ha. When I was younger, I was angry about "us," you know about the way people in our society behave.

But over time, I realized, that if I'm open-minded about my Bushmen friends, I should be open-minded about people here.

So over time, the experiences have really humanized everybody. I've come to realize that all types of people — and their cultures — are just as clever and just as stupid."
globalism  happiness  anthropology  bushmen  jameslancester  affluence  abundance  jamessuzman  namibia  khoisan  culture  society  time  hunter-gatherers 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
The Touch of Madness - Pacific Standard
"So Jones grew alarmed when, soon after starting at DePaul in the fall of 2007, at age 27, she began having trouble retaining things she had just read. She also struggled to memorize the new characters she was learning in her advanced Chinese class. She had experienced milder versions of these cognitive and memory blips a couple times before, most recently as she’d finished her undergraduate studies earlier that year. These new mental glitches were worse. She would study and draw the new logograms one night, then come up short when she tried to draw them again the next morning.

These failures felt vaguely neurological. As if her synapses had clogged. She initially blamed them on the sleepless, near-manic excitement of finally being where she wanted to be. She had wished for exactly this, serious philosophy and nothing but, for half her life. Now her mind seemed to be failing. Words started to look strange. She began experiencing "inarticulable atmospheric changes," as she put it—not hallucinations, really, but alterations of temporality, spatiality, depth perception, kinesthetics. Shimmerings in reality's fabric. Sidewalks would feel soft and porous. Audio and visual input would fall out of sync, creating a lag between the movement of a speaker's lips and the words' arrival at Jones' ears. Something was off.

"You look at your hand," as she described it to me later, holding hers up and examining it front and back, "and it looks the same as always. But it's not. It's yours—but it's not. Nothing has changed"—she let her hand drop to her knee—"yet it's different. And that's what gets you. There's nothing to notice; but you can't help but notice."

Another time she found herself staring at the stone wall of a building on campus and realizing that the wall's thick stone possessed two contradictory states. She recognized that the wall was immovable and that, if she punched it, she'd break her hand. Yet she also perceived that the stone was merely a constellation of atomic particles so tenuously bound that, if she blew on it, it would come apart. She experienced this viscerally. She felt the emptiness within the stone.

Initially she found these anomalies less threatening than weird. But as they intensified, the gap between what she was perceiving and what she could understand rationally generated an unbearable cognitive dissonance. How could something feel so wrong but she couldn't say what? She had read up the wazoo about perception, phenomenology, subjectivity, consciousness. She of all people should be able to articulate what she was experiencing. Yet she could not. "Language had betrayed me," she says. "There was nothing you could point to and say, 'This looks different about the world.' There were no terms. I had no fucking idea."

Too much space was opening within and around and below her. She worried she was going mad. She had seen what madness looked like from the outside. When Jones was in her teens, one of her close relatives, an adult she'd always seen frequently, and whom we'll call Alex for privacy reasons, had in early middle age fallen into a state of almost relentless schizophrenia. It transformed Alex from a warm, caring, and open person who was fully engaged with the world into somebody who was isolated from it—somebody who seemed remote, behaved in confusing and alarming ways, and periodically required hospitalization. Jones now started to worry this might be happening to her."



"Reading philosophy helped Jones think. It helped order the disorderly. Yet later, in college, she lit up when she discovered the writers who laid the philosophical foundation for late 20-century critical psychiatry and madness studies: Michel Foucault, for instance, who wrote about how Western culture, by medicalizing madness, brands the mad as strangers to human nature. Foucault described both the process and the alienating effect of this exclusion-by-definition, or "othering," as it soon came to be known, and how the mad were cut out and cast away, flung into pits of despair and confusion, leaving ghosts of their presence behind.

To Jones, philosophy, not medicine, best explained the reverberations from the madness that had touched her family: the disappearance of the ex-husband; the alienation of Alex, who at times seemed "there but not there," unreachable. Jones today describes the madness in and around her family as a koan, a puzzle that teaches by its resistance to solution, and which forces upon her the question of how to speak for those who may not be able to speak for themselves.

Jones has since made a larger version of this question—of how we think of and treat the mad, and why in the West we usually shunt them aside—her life's work. Most of this work radiates from a single idea: Culture shapes the experience, expression, and outcome of madness. The idea is not that culture makes one mad. It's that culture profoundly influences every aspect about how madness develops and expresses itself, from its onset to its full-blown state, from how the afflicted experience it to how others respond to it, whether it destroys you or leaves you whole.

This idea is not original to Jones. It rose from the observation, first made at least a century ago and well-documented now, that Western cultures tend to send the afflicted into a downward spiral rarely seen in less modernized cultures. Schizophrenia actually has a poorer prognosis for people in the West than for those in less urbanized, non-Eurocentric societies. When the director of the World Health Organization's mental-health unit, Shekhar Saxena, was asked last year where he'd prefer to be if he were diagnosed with schizophrenia, he said for big cities he'd prefer a city in Ethiopia or Sri Lanka, like Colombo or Addis Ababa, rather than New York or London, because in the former he could expect to be seen as a productive if eccentric citizen rather than a reject and an outcast.

Over the past 25 years or so, the study of culture's effect on schizophrenia has received increasing attention from philosophers, historians, psychiatrists, anthropologists, and epidemiologists, and it is now edging into the mainstream. In the past five years, Nev Jones has made herself one of this view's most forceful proponents and one of the most effective advocates for changing how Western culture and psychiatry respond to people with psychosis. While still a graduate student at DePaul she founded three different groups to help students with psychosis continue their studies. After graduating in 2014, she expanded her reach first into the highest halls of academe, as a scholar at Stanford University, and then into policy, working with state and private agencies in California and elsewhere on programs for people with psychosis, and with federal agencies to produce toolkits for universities, students, and families about dealing with psychosis emerging during college or graduate study. Now in a new position as an assistant professor at the University of South Florida, she continues to examine—and ask the rest of us to see—how culture shapes madness.

In the United States, the culture's initial reaction to a person's first psychotic episode, embedded most officially in a medical system that sees psychosis and schizophrenia as essentially biological, tends to cut the person off instantly from friends, social networks, work, and their sense of identity. This harm can be greatly reduced, however, when a person's first care comes from the kind of comprehensive, early intervention programs, or EIPs, that Jones works on. These programs emphasize truly early intervention, rather than the usual months-long lag between first symptoms and any help; high, sustained levels of social, educational, and vocational support; and building on the person's experience, ambitions, and strengths to keep them as functional and engaged as possible. Compared to treatment as usual, EIPs lead to markedly better outcomes across the board, create more independence, and seem to create far less trauma for patients and their family and social circles."



"Once his eye was caught, Kraepelin started seeing culture's effects everywhere. In his native Germany, for instance, schizophrenic Saxons were more likely to kill themselves than were Bavarians, who were, in turn, more apt to do violence to others. In a 1925 trip to North America, Kraepelin found that Native Americans with schizophrenia, like Indonesians, didn't build in their heads the elaborate delusional worlds that schizophrenic Europeans did, and hallucinated less.

Kraepelin died in 1926, before he could publish a scholarly version of those findings. Late in his life, he embraced some widely held but horrific ideas about scientific racism and eugenics. Yet he had clearly seen that culture exerted a powerful, even fundamental, effect on the intensity, nature, and duration of symptoms in schizophrenia, and in bipolar disorder and depression. He urged psychiatrists to explore just how culture created such changes.

Even today, few in medicine have heeded this call. Anthropologists, on the other hand, have answered it vigorously over the last couple of decades. To a cultural anthropologist, culture includes the things most of us would expect—movies, music, literature, law, tools, technologies, institutions, and traditions. It also includes a society's predominant ideas, values, stories, interpretations, beliefs, symbols, and framings—everything from how we should dress, greet one another, and prepare and eat food, to what it means to be insane. Madness, in other words, is just one more thing about which a culture constructs and applies ideas that guide thought and behavior.

But what connects these layers of culture to something so seemingly internal as a person's state of mind? The biocultural anthropologist Daniel Lende says that it helps here to think of culture as a series of concentric circles surrounding each of us. For simplicity's sake, let's keep it to two circles around a core, with each circle … [more]
2017  daviddobbs  mentalhealth  psychology  health  culture  madness  nevjones  japan  ethiopia  colombo  addisababa  schizophrenia  society  srilanka  shekharsaxena  philosophy  perception  treatment  medicine  psychosis  media  academia  anthropology  daniellende  pauleugenbleuler  emilkraepelin  danielpaulschreber  edwadsapir  relationships  therapy  tinachanter  namitagoswami  irenehurford  richardnoll  ethanwatters  wolfgangjilek  wolfgangpfeiffer  stigma  banishment  hallucinations  really  but  alterations  of  temporality  time  spatiality  depthperception  kinesthetics  memory  memories  reality  phenomenology  subjectivity  consciousness  donaldwinnicott  alienation  kinship  isolation  tanyaluhrmann 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
Dr. Nev Jones on Vimeo
[found after reading:

"The Tough of Madness: Culture profoundly shapes our ideas about mental illness, which is something psychologist Nev Jones knows all too well."
https://psmag.com/magazine/the-touch-of-madness-mental-health-schizophrenia ]
nevjones  academia  psychology  psychosis  schizophrenia  2017  mentalhealth  healthcare  health  ptsd  immigration  support  culture  society  risk 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
srishti archive | Designing Spaces for Learning - Talk by Geetha Narayanan
"Experience or experimenting, expanding or developing, remembering or copying are all choices designers and educators make as they engage with notions of learning and of change. This paper presents a set of four case studies that articulate the pedagogical visions of a collective who have been investigating the connections between context, culture, consciousness and learning. Set within learning spaces for the urban poor and the elite this paper positions that fostering deep connections between place, space and the child is critical to the development of consciousness and competence. Designing spaces for learning needs, as this paper argues for an appreciation of forms of knowing that juxtaposes primary ways of knowing with the analytic and the designerly. Speaker : Geetha Narayanan (Principal Investigator, Project Vision Design and Research Collective, Centre for Education Research, Training and Development, Srishti School of Art Design & Technology) Seminar Date: March 23rd, 2010 Venue: National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Indian Institute of Science Campus Time: 3.00 p.m. Respondents: Prem Chandavarkar (Architect) & Ampat Varghese(Faculty at Srishti)"

[See also: https://vimeo.com/11049855 ]
geethanarayanan  education  learning  design  architecture  experimentation  pedagogy  2010  context  culture  consciousness  schooldesign 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
OBJECT AMERICA
"The Observational Practices Lab, Parsons, (co-directed by Pascal Glissmann and Selena Kimball) launches a multi-phase project and investigation, OBJECT AMERICA, to explore the idea of “America” through everyday objects. The aim is to use comparative research and observational methods—which may range from the scientific to the absurd—to expose unseen histories and speculate about the future of the country as a concept. The contemporary global media landscape is fast-moving and undercut by “fake news” and “alternative facts” which demands that students and researchers build a repertoire of strategies to assess and respond to sources of information. For the first phase of OBJECT AMERICA launching in the fall of 2017, we invited Ellen Lupton, Senior Curator of Contemporary Design at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, to choose an object for this investigation which she believed would represent “America” into the future (she chose the Model 500 Telephone by Henry Dreyfuss designed in 1953). Researchers will investigate this object through different disciplinary lenses — including art, climate science, cultural geography, data visualization, economics, history of mathematics, medicine, media theory, material science, music, poetry, and politics — in order to posit alternative ways of seeing."

[via: https://twitter.com/shannonmattern/status/915366114753990660 ]
objects  pascalglissmann  selenakimball  ellenlupton  art  climate  science  culturalgeography  datavisualization  economics  mathematics  math  medicine  mediatheory  materialscience  music  poetry  politics  seeing  waysofseeing  geography  culture  history  climatescience  dataviz  infoviz 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
Robert Macfarlane on Twitter: "The contrast-term to "Kulturfolger" is "Kulturmeider", culture-avoiders, those species that cannot survive in humanly made habitats. https://t.co/MXlpmglEEn"
"The contrast-term to "Kulturfolger" is "Kulturmeider", culture-avoiders, those species that cannot survive in humanly made habitats."

[See also: "Word of the day: "Kulturfolger" - a species that adapts well to living among humans & their habitats (lit. 'culture-follower', German)."
https://twitter.com/RobGMacfarlane/status/912557474242334720 ]
words  german  culture  multispecies  entanglement  humans  nature  wildlife  anthropocene 
7 weeks ago by robertogreco
Ibram Kendi, one of the nation’s leading scholars of racism, says education and love are not the answer
"“We have been taught that ignorance and hate lead to racist ideas, lead to racist policies,” Kendi said. “If the fundamental problem is ignorance and hate, then your solutions are going to be focused on education, and love and persuasion. But of course [Stamped from the Beginning] shows that the actual foundation of racism is not ignorance and hate, but self-interest, particularly economic and political and cultural.” Self-interest drives racist policies that benefit that self-interest. When the policies are challenged because they produce inequalities, racist ideas spring up to justify those policies. Hate flows freely from there.

The self-interest: The Portuguese had to justify their pioneering slave trade of African people before the pope.

The racist idea: Africans are barbarians. If we remove them from Africa and enslave them, they could be civilized.

“We can understand this very simply with slavery. I’m enslaving people because I want to make money. Abolitionists are resisting me, so I’m going to convince Americans that these people should be enslaved because they’re black, and then people will start believing those ideas: that these people are so barbaric, that they need to be enslaved, or that they are so childlike that they need to be enslaved.”

Kendi boils racist ideas down to an irreducible core: Any idea that suggests one racial group is superior or inferior to another group in any way is a racist idea, he says, and there are two types. Segregationist ideas contend racial groups are created unequal. Assimilationist ideas, as Kendi defines them, argue that both discrimination and problematic black people are to blame for inequalities.

Americans who don’t carry tiki torches react viscerally to segregationist ideas like those on display at the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left one young counter-protester dead. Assimilationist ideas are more subtle, seductive and coded.

“You can be someone who has no intention to be racist,” who believes in and fights for equality, “but because you’re conditioned in a world that is racist and a country that is structured in anti-black racism, you yourself can perpetuate those ideas,” says Kendi. No matter what color you are.

Anti-racist ideas hold that racial groups are equal. That the only thing inferior about black people is their opportunities. “The only thing wrong with black people is that we think there is something wrong with black people,” a line that Kendi uses like a mantra.

The Blue Lives Matter (the problem is violent black people) Black Lives Matter (the problem is the criminal justice system, poor training and police bias) and All Lives Matter (the problem is police and black people) arguments are extensions of the same, three-way debate (segregationist, anti-racist and assimilationist) that Americans have been having since the founding of the country.

“We’ve been taught American history as a steady march of racial progress,” but it’s always been a dual march of racial and racist progress, which we see from Charlottesville to “their Trump Tower,” Kendi says.

This is the jump-off Kendi uses to frame the most roiling issues of the day. But before he could build that frame, he first had to deal with his own racism."
racism  history  ideas  2017  ibramkendi  via:ablerism  assimilation  inequlity  blacklivesmatter  bluelivesmatter  alllivesmatter  self-interest  capitalism  politics  culture 
8 weeks ago by robertogreco
Public Knowledge
"Public Knowledge is an expansive, multi-faceted project that aims to promote public dialogue about the cultural impact of urban and technological change and the role of public institutions in these turbulent times in San Francisco and the Bay Area. Bringing together artists, librarians, scholars, and community collaborators and partners from many backgrounds, it is spearheaded by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in partnership with the San Francisco Public Library.

The Public Knowledge initiative explores the tectonic economic, social, and cultural shifts transforming San Francisco, the factors involved in the changes taking place, and the stakes involved in surviving, resisting, adapting, and trying to shape these changes. Valuing the unique contribution that artistic thinking and practice can make to public conversations, the project will unfold over two years of artists in residence, free talks, discussions, workshops, performances, and other events in neighborhoods and libraries throughout the city. Together we will explore how contemporary art can illuminate issues of concern to our community, and create spaces for new conversations, both locally and farther afield.

In a time when providing access to public information and social engagement, once a key role of public institutions, is now being taken over by technology, the Public Knowledge project recognizes that people seem to be abandoning public institutions, and ambitiously seeks to examine the historic role of public institutions and reinvigorate their relevance today. By experimenting with new ways of forging relationships and nurturing connections, we look to act as a catalyst for participants to exchange ideas and learn from one another, and together to develop new approaches to strengthening the fabric of civic life.

The project will have a physical location at a new pop-up Public Knowledge Library, a temporary branch of the public library at SFMOMA where visitors can engage with all kinds of related materials, and an online location where anyone interested can learn more and participate.

Public Knowledge is organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in partnership with the San Francisco Public Library. The project has been made possible in part by a major Public Humanities Projects, Community Conversations grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the Human Endeavor."

[See also: https://www.sfmoma.org/artists-artworks/public-dialogue/public-knowledge/

"Launched in April 2017, Public Knowledge is a two-year project that aims to promote public dialogue on the cultural impact of urban change. Through artist projects, research collaborations, public programs, and publishing, it builds new connections between ideas, individuals, and communities. Public Knowledge is based in San Francisco and takes place at multiple locations in the city.

The project grew in response to the profound changes taking place in the San Francisco Bay Area due to the rapid growth of the technology industry. While many have benefited from the resulting boom, it has also led to increasing inequality. Rising costs and unevenly distributed gains create ever greater difficulties for those excluded: a fraying sense of community as everyday life becomes more precarious; the disappearance of an inclusive and diverse cultural ecology as nonprofit organizations and cultural spaces are priced out of neighborhoods; and the loss of cultural memory for those without the means to represent themselves.

San Francisco may be an extreme instance of this process of hyper-gentrification, but it is not unique. Many other cities in the United States and around the world have shared similar experiences. The changes are so fast and so deep that it can be hard to interpret and respond to their impact on public life.

At the same time, the technology industry, with both a deep local impact and a global reach, has disrupted what knowledge is, how it is produced, and how it is circulated. As information and resources are increasingly privatized and public trust is eroded, how can the forms and institutions of public knowledge be maintained?

Public Knowledge brings together artists, scholars, librarians, community organizers, and San Francisco residents to consider these questions. By sharing their varied expertise and creating new knowledge through the project’s activities, participants can learn from each other and, collectively, begin to develop new approaches to strengthening the fabric of civic life.

Public Knowledge is co-curated by Deena Chalabi, Barbara and Stephan Vermut Associate Curator of Public Dialogue, and Dominic Willsdon, Leanne and George Roberts Curator of Education and Public Practice. Stella Lochman, Program Associate, Public Dialogue, is head of production.

Participating artists include Burak Arikan, Bik Van der Pol, Minerva Cuevas, Josh Kun, and Stephanie Syjuco.

Participating scholars include Julia Bryan-Wilson, Jon Christensen, Teddy Cruz, Fonna Forman, Jennifer A. González, Shannon Jackson, and Fred Turner."]

[via: https://twitter.com/shannonmattern/status/911987274497380353 ]
sfmoma  sanfrancisco  art  public  bayarea  libraries  community  sfpl  economics  society  culture  place  change  thinking  practice  conversation  publicinstitutions  institutions 
8 weeks ago by robertogreco
Lingua Franca - February 2001 | Cover Story: The Ex-Cons
"The only thing that arouses Luttwak's ire more than untrammeled capitalism is its elite enthusiasts—the intellectuals, politicians, policy makers, and businessmen who claim that "just because the market is always more efficient, the market should always rule." Alan Greenspan earns Luttwak's special contempt: "Alan Greenspan is a Spencerian. That makes him an economic fascist." Spencerians like Greenspan believe that "the harshest economic pressures" will "stimulate some people to...economically heroic deeds. They will become great entrepreneurs or whatever else, and as for the ones who fail, let them fail." Luttwak's other b'te noire is "Chainsaw Al" Dunlap, the peripatetic CEO who reaps unimaginable returns for corporate shareholders by firing substantial numbers of employees from companies. "Chainsaw does it," says Luttwak, referring to Dunlap's downsizing measures, "because he's simpleminded, harsh, and cruel." It's just "economic sadism." Against Greenspan and Dunlap, Luttwak affirms, "I believe that one ought to have only as much market efficiency as one needs, because everything that we value in human life is within the realm of inefficiency—love, family, attachment, community, culture, old habits, comfortable old shoes.""



"Although Luttwak writes in his 1999 book Turbo-Capitalism, "I deeply believe...in the virtues of capitalism," his opposition to the spread of market values is so acute that it puts him on the far end of today's political spectrum—a position that Luttwak congenitally enjoys. "Edward is a very perverse guy, intellectually and in many other ways," says former Commentary editor Norman Podhoretz, one of Luttwak's early champions during the 1970s. "He's a contrarian. He enjoys confounding expectations. But I frankly don't even know how serious he is in this latest incarnation." Luttwak insists that he is quite serious. He calls for socialized medicine. He advocates a strong welfare state, claiming, "If I had my druthers, I would prohibit any form of domestic charity." Charity is a "cop-out," he says: It takes dignity away from the poor."

[via: https://twitter.com/jonathanshainin/status/907983419413381120
via: https://twitter.com/camerontw/status/908176042182950914 ]

[from the responses to the tweet above:

"reminds me of kurt vonnegut on buying an envelope"
https://twitter.com/okay_dc/status/907991703184912386

"[When Vonnegut tells his wife he's going out to buy an envelope] Oh, she says, well, you're not a poor man. You know, why don't you go online and buy a hundred envelopes and put them in the closet? And so I pretend not to hear her. And go out to get an envelope because I'm going to have a hell of a good time in the process of buying one envelope. I meet a lot of people. And, see some great looking babes. And a fire engine goes by. And I give them the thumbs up. And, and ask a woman what kind of dog that is. And, and I don't know. The moral of the story is, is we're here on Earth to fart around. And, of course, the computers will do us out of that. And, what the computer people don't realize, or they don't care, is we're dancing animals. You know, we love to move around. And, we're not supposed to dance at all anymore."

http://blog.garrytan.com/kurt-vonnegut-goes-to-buy-an-envelope-profund
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9299135 ]

[also from the responses:

"Excellent. Nicholas Carr http://www.roughtype.com/?p=4708 "
https://twitter.com/BrianSJ3/status/908022365128462337

"Pichai doesn’t seem able to comprehend that the essence, and the joy, of parenting may actually lie in all the small, trivial gestures that parents make on behalf of or in concert with their kids — like picking out a song to play in the car. Intimacy is redefined as inefficiency."
http://www.roughtype.com/?p=4708 ]

[Cf: "The automated island"
http://crapfutures.tumblr.com/post/161539196134/the-automated-island

"In his frankly curmudgeonly but still insightful essay ‘Why I am Not Going to Buy a Computer’ (1987), Wendell Berry lays out his ‘standards for technological innovation’. There are nine points, and in the third point Berry states that the new device or system ‘should do work that is clearly and demonstrably better’ than the old one. This seems obvious and not too much to ask of a technology, but how well does the automated entrance at Ponta Gorda fulfill that claim?

Berry also has a point, the last in his list, about not replacing or disrupting ‘anything good that already exists’. This includes relationships between people. In other words, solve actual problems - rather than finding just any old place to put a piece of technology you want to sell. Even if the scanners at Ponta Gorda did work, how would eliminating the one human being who is employed to welcome visitors and answer questions improve the system? In Berry’s words, ‘what would be superseded would be not only something, but somebody’. The person who works there is a ‘good that already exists’, a human relationship that should be preserved, especially when her removal from a job would be bought at so little gain."]
2001  efficiency  capitalism  policy  politics  alangreenspan  edwardluttwak  freemarkets  humans  humanism  love  family  attachment  community  culture  canon  inefficiency  economics  slow  small  coreyrobin  charity  poverty  markets  welfarestate  dignity  normanpodhoretz  karlmarx  marxism  johngray  conservatism  thatcherism  ronaldreagan  elitism  kurtvonnegut  nicholascarr  parenting 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
Nicky Case: Seeing Whole Systems - The Long Now
"Nicky Case is an independent game developer who creates interactive games and simulations including Parable of the Polygons (02014), Coming Out Simulator (02014), We Become What We Behold (02016), To Build A Better Ballot (02016), and LOOPY (02017).



Nicky Case’s presentations are as ingenious, compelling, and graphically rich as the visualizing tools and games Nicky creates for understanding complex dynamic systems.

Case writes: “We need to see the non-linear feedback loops between culture, economics, and technology. Not only that, but we need to see how collective behavior emerges from individual minds and motives. We need new tools, theories, and visualizations to help people talk across disciplines.”

Nicky Case is the creator of Parable of the Polygons (02014), Coming Out Simulator (02014), We Become What We Behold (02016), To Build A Better Ballot (02016), and LOOPY (02017).



How to finesse complexity

HE BEGAN, “Hi, I’m Nicky Case, and I explain complex systems in a visual, tangible, and playful way.” He did exactly that with 207 brilliant slides and clear terminology. What system engineers call “negative feedback,” for example, Case calls “balancing loops.” They maintain a value. Likewise “positive feedback” he calls “reinforcing loops.” They increase a value

Using examples and stories such as the viciousness of the board game Monopoly and the miracle of self-organizing starlings, Case laid out the visual basics of finessing complex systems. A reinforcing loop is like a ball on the top of a hill, ready to accelerate downhill when set in motion. A balancing loop is like a ball in a valley, always returning to the bottom of the valley when perturbed.

Now consider how to deal with a situation where you have an “attractor” (a deep valley) that attracts a system toward failure:

[image]

The situation is precarious for the ball because it is near a hilltop that is a reinforcing loop. If the ball is nudged over the top, it will plummet to the bottom of the balancing-loop valley and be stuck there. It would take enormous effort raise the ball out of such an attractor—which might be financial collapse or civil war. Case’s solution is not to try to move the ball, MOVE THE HILLS—identify the balancing and reinforcing loops in the system and weaken or strengthen them as needed to reconfigure the whole system so that the desired condition becomes the dominant attractor.

Now add two more characteristics of the real world—dense networks and chaos (randomness). They make possible the phenomena of emergence (a whole that is different than the sum of its parts) and evolution. Evolution is made of selection (managed by reinforcing and balancing loops) plus variation (unleashed by dense networks and chaos). You cannot control evolution and should not try--that way lies totalitarianism. Our ever popular over-emphasis on selection can lead to paralyzed systems—top-down autocratic governments and frozen businesses. Case urges attention to variation, harnessing networks and chaos from the bottom up via connecting various people from various fields, experimenting with lots of solutions, and welcoming a certain amount of randomness and play. “Design for evolution,” Case says, “and the system will surprise you with solutions you never thought of.”

To do that, “Make chaos your friend.”

--Stewart Brand"
systems  systemsthinking  nickycase  2017  illustration  visualization  longnow  maps  mapping  stewartbrand  games  gaming  gamedesign  capitalism  socialism  monopoly  economics  technology  culture  precarity  chaos  networks  evolution  socialtrust  voting  design  complexity  abstraction  communication  jargon  unknown  loopiness  alinear  feedbackloops  interconnectedness  dataviz  predictions 
12 weeks ago by robertogreco
REPATRIATION — Gabby Miller
"This project facilitates the repatriation of “Home” a sculpture by Nguyen Phuong Linh from Oakland to Vietnam. "Home" is made from 200 year old heavy tropical hardwood, originally used as the floorboards to a Catholic church in the outskirts of Hanoi. This vessel was made in 2012 for Hinterlands at The Luggage Store Gallery. In 2017 "Home" was brought out of storage, and restored for the inaugural exhibition at The Museum of Capitalism,  in The Port of Oakland. "Home" was brought into public view with the express purpose of being repatriated to Vietnam, as a symbolic commemoration of imagining capitalism's end.

repatriate

verb re·pa·tri·ate \(ˌ)rē-ˈpā-trē-ˌāt, -ˈpa-\

to restore or return to the country of origin, allegiance, or citizenship repatriate prisoners of war

verb (used with object), repatriated, repatriating.

1. to bring or send back (a person, especially a prisoner of war, a refugee, etc.) to his or her country or land of citizenship.

2. (of profits or other assets) to send back to one's own country. verb (used without object), repatriated, repatriating.

3. to return to one's own country: to repatriate after 20 years abroad.

Repatriation is the return of art or cultural heritage, usually referring to ancient or looted art, to their country of origin or former owners (or their heirs). The disputed cultural property items are physical artifacts of a group or society that were taken from another group usually in an act of looting, whether in the context of imperialism, colonialism or war. The contested objects range widely from sculptures and paintings to monuments and human remains."

[See also: https://www.instagram.com/p/BYKOEcGl7LV/

"Phase 2 of Repatriation // Preparing for departure at @helloforevor studio // Repatriation is the return of art or cultural heritage, usually referring to ancient or looted art, to their country of origin or former owners (or their heirs). The disputed cultural property items are physical artifacts of a group or society that were taken from another group usually in an act of looting, whether in the context of imperialism, colonialism or war. The contested objects range widely from sculptures and paintings to monuments and human remains.

Repatriation of Nguyen Phuong Linh's wooden boat, made for HINTERLANDS at The Luggage Store Gallery, 2012.

Referencing hinterlands as a shipping term, the project explored the geopolitics of ocean freight trade, and the historical connection between. The two artists from Vietnam were invited to ship raw materials across The Pacific, from Vietnam to San Francisco, to produce their work. Nguyen Phuong Linh asked her father, who founded “Nha San Studio” - Vietnam’s first and longest running experimental art space in their family home, and who collects and salvages wood for a living, to send her wood of his choosing. Her father decided to send her the floorboards of a two hundred year old catholic church in the outskirts of Hanoi. These floorboards were thick and strong. They were planed down and shaped into this boat, which Linh gave the title “Home”.

The establishment of the Port of Oakland is deeply connected to the escalation of The Vietnam War, and the subsequent transformation of the global supply chain through the worldwide adoption of containerization. ➰
In 1967 the U.S. government contracted Sea-Land to begin service from The Port of Oakland to South Vietnam. In November of that year the 685-foot-long ship The Oakland delivered 609 thirty-five foot containers. The ship held as much cargo as could be carried on ten average break bulk ships hauling military freight to Vietnam.

Supplies flowed in, the cargo backlog dissipated. “The port congestion problem was solved,” the army’s history of 1967 declared triumphantly. * (Levinson, The Box) ➰"]
gabbymiller  repatriation  oakland  vietnam  art  sculpture  nguyenphuonglinh  capitalism  museumofcapitalism  hanoi  2017  2012  heritage  culture 
12 weeks ago by robertogreco
What is it like to be white?
"Here’s Fran Lebowitz talking about race in the US in a 1997 Vanity Fair interview:
The way to approach it, I think, is not to ask, “What would it be like to be black?” but to seriously consider what it is like to be white. That’s something white people almost never think about. And what it is like to be white is not to say, “We have to level the playing field,” but to acknowledge that not only do white people own the playing field but they have so designated this plot of land as a playing field to begin with. White people are the playing field. The advantage of being white is so extreme, so overwhelming, so immense, that to use the word “advantage” at all is misleading since it implies a kind of parity that simply does not exist.

It is now common — and I use the word “common” in its every sense — to see interviews with up-and-coming young movie stars whose parents or even grandparents were themselves movie stars. And when the interviewer asks, “Did you find it an advantage to be the child of a major motion-picture star?” the answer is invariably “Well, it gets you in the door, but after that you’ve got to perform, you’re on your own.” This is ludicrous. Getting in the door is pretty much the entire game, especially in movie acting, which is, after all, hardly a profession notable for its rigor. That’s how advantageous it is to be white. It’s as though all white people were the children of movie stars. Everyone gets in the door and then all you have to do is perform at this relatively minimal level.

Additionally, children of movie stars, like white people, have at — or actually in — their fingertips an advantage that is genetic. Because they are literally the progeny of movie stars they look specifically like the movie stars who have preceded them, their parents; they don’t have to convince us that they can be movie stars. We take them instantly at face value. Full face value. They look like their parents, whom we already know to be movie stars. White people look like their parents, whom we already know to be in charge. This is what white people look like — other white people. The owners. The people in charge. That’s the advantage of being white. And that’s the game. So by the time the white person sees the black person standing next to him at what he thinks is the starting line, the black person should be exhausted from his long and arduous trek to the beginning.

[Full article at: "Fran Lebowitz on Race and Racism"
https://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2016/01/fran-lebowitz-on-race-and-racism ]
race  culture  equity  whiteness  1997  franlebowitz  racism  privilege  us  society  via:lukeneff 
12 weeks ago by robertogreco
recalibrating your sites – the ANOVA
"Not too long ago, I felt the need to change the stream of personalities and attitudes that were pouring into my head, and it’s been remarkable.

This was really the product of idiosyncratic personal conditions, but it’s ended up being a good intellectual exercise too. I had to rearrange a few things in my digital social life. And concurrently I had realized that my sense of the world was being distorted by the flow of information that was being deposited into my brain via the internet. I hadn’t really lost a sense of what the “other side” thinks politically; I’m still one of those geezers who forces himself to read Reason and the Wall Street Journal op/ed page and, god help me, National Review. But I had definitely lost a sense of the mental lives of people who did not occupy my various weird interests.

What were other people thinking about, at least as far as could be gleaned by what they shared online? What appeared to be a big deal to them and what didn’t? I had lost my sense of social proportion. I couldn’t tell if the things my friends were obsessing about were things that the rest of the world was obsessing about. Talking to IRL friends that don’t post much or at all online helped give me a sense that I was missing something. But I didn’t know what.

No, I had to use the tools available to me to dramatically change the opinions and ideas and attitudes that were coming flowing into my mental life. And it had become clear that, though I have an RSS feed and I peruse certain websites and publications regularly, though I still read lots of books and physical journals and magazines, the opinions I was receiving were coming overwhelmingly through social media. People shared things and commented on what they shared on Facebook and Twitter, they made clear what ideas were permissible and what weren’t on Facebook and Twitter, they defined the shared mental world on Facebook and Twitter. They created a language that, if you weren’t paying attention, looked like the lingua franca. I’m sure there are people out there who can take all of this in with the proper perspective and not allow it to subtly shape your perception of social attitudes writ large. But I can’t.

It’s all particularly disturbing because a lot of what you see and don’t online is the product of algorithms that are blunt instruments at best.

So I set about disconnecting, temporarily, from certain people, groups, publications, and conversations. I found voices that popped up in my feeds a lot and muted them. I unfollowed groups and pages. I looked out for certain markers of status and social belonging and used them as guides for what to avoid. I was less interested in avoiding certain subjects than I was in avoiding certain perspectives, the social frames that we all use to understand the world. The news cycle was what it was; I could not avoid Trump, as wonderful as that sounds. But I could avoid a certain way of looking at Trump, and at the broader world. In particular I wanted to look past what we once called ideology: I wanted to see the ways in which my internet-mediated intellectual life was dominated by assumptions that did not recognize themselves as assumptions, to understand how the perspective that did not understand itself to be a perspective had distorted my vision of the world. I wanted to better see the water in which my school of fish swims.

Now this can be touchy – mutually connecting with people on social media has become a loaded thing in IRL relationships, for better or worse. Luckily both Facebook and Twitter give you ways to not see someone’s posts without them knowing and without severing the connection. Just make a list of people, pages, and publications that you want to take a diet from, and after a month or two of seeing how different things look, go back to following them. (Alternatively: don’t.) Really do it! The tools are there, and you can always revert back. Just keep a record of what you’re doing.

I was prepared for this to result in a markedly different online experience for me, and for it to somewhat change my perception of what “everyone” thinks, of what people are reading, watching, and listening to, etc. But even so, I’ve been floored by how dramatically different the online world looks with a little manipulation of the feeds. A few subjects dropped out entirely; the Twin Peaks reboot went from being everywhere to being nowhere, for example. But what really changed was the affect through which the world was presenting itself to me.

You would not be surprised by what my lenses appear to have been (and still largely to be): very college educated, very left-leaing, very New York, very media-savvy, very middlebrow, and for lack of a better word, very “cool.” That is, the perspective that I had tried to wean myself off of was made up of people whose online self-presentation is ostentatiously ironic, in-joke heavy, filled with cultural references that are designed to hit just the right level of obscurity, and generally oriented towards impressing people through being performatively not impressed by anything. It was made up of people who are passionately invested in not appearing to be passionately invested in anything. It’s a sensibility that you can trace back to Gawker and Spy magazine and much, much further back than that, if you care to.

Perhaps most dramatic was the changes to what – and who – was perceived as a Big Deal. By cutting out a hundred voices or fewer, things and people that everybody talks about became things and people that nobody talks about. The internet is a technology for creating small ponds for us to all be big fish in. But you change your perspective just slightly, move over just an inch, and suddenly you get a sense of just how few people know about you or could possibly care. It’s oddly comforting, to be reminded that even if you enjoy a little internet notoriety, the average person on the street could not care less who you are or what you do. I recommend it.

Of course, there are profound limits to this. My feeds are still dominantly coming from a few overlapping social cultures. Trimming who I’m following hasn’t meant that I’m suddenly connected to more high school dropouts, orthodox Jews, senior citizens, or people who don’t speak English. I would never pretend that this little exercise has given me a truly broad perspective. The point has just been to see how dramatically a few changes to my digital life could alter my perception of “the conversation.” And it’s done that. More than ever, I worry that our sense of shared political assumptions and the perceived immorality of the status quo is the result of systems that exclude a large mass of people, whose opinions will surely matter in the political wars ahead.

I am now adding some of what I cut back in to my digital life. The point was never really to avoid particular publications or people. I like some of what and who I had cut out very much. The point is to remain alive to how arbitrary and idiosyncratic changes in the constant flow of information can alter our perception of the human race. It’s something I intend to do once a year or so, to jolt myself back into understanding how limiting my perspective really is.

Everyone knows, these days, that we’re living in digitally-enabled bubbles. The trouble is that our instincts are naturally to believe that everyone else is in a bubble, or at least that their bubbles are smaller and with thicker walls. But people like me – college educated, living in an urban enclave, at least socially liberal, tuned in to arts and culture news and criticism, possessed of the vocabulary of media and the academy, “savvy” – you face unique temptations in this regard. No, I don’t think that this kind of bubble is the same as someone who only gets their news from InfoWars and Breitbart. But the fact that so many people like me write the professional internet, the fact that the creators of the idioms and attitudes of our newsmedia and cultural industry almost universally come from a very thin slice of the American populace, is genuinely dangerous.

To regain perspective takes effort, and I encourage you all to expend that effort, particularly if you are an academic or journalist. Your world is small, and our world is big."
freddiedeboer  2017  internet  twitter  facebook  filterbubbles  socialmedia  relationships  algorithms  echochambers  academia  journalism  culture  society  diversity  perspective  listening  web  media  feeds 
august 2017 by robertogreco
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs vs. The Max Neef Model of Human Scale development
"Maslow wanted to understand what motivated people , in order to accomplish that he studied the various needs of people and created a hierarchy out of those needs. The idea was that the needs that belong towards the end of the Pyramid are Deficit Needs/ Basic Needs (Physiological, safety, love/belonging, esteem) and Growth Needs (Self Actualization).

One must satisfy lower level basic needs before progressing on to meet higher level growth needs. Once these needs have been reasonably satisfied, one may be able to reach the highest level called self-actualization.

CRITICISM

The strongest criticism of this theory is based on the way this theory was formed. In order to create a definition of Self Actualization, Maslow identified 18 people as Self Actualizers and studied their characteristics, this is a very small percentage of people. Secondly there are artists, philosophers who do not meet the basic needs but show signs of Self Actualization.

One of the interesting ways of looking at theories that I learned in class was how a person’s place and identity impacts the work he/ she does. Maslow was from US, a capitalist nation, therefore his model never looks at group dynamics or the social aspect.

Contemporary research by Tay & Diener (2011) has tested Maslow’s theory by analyzing the data of 60,865 participants from 123 countries, representing every major region of the world. The survey was conducted from 2005 to 2010.
Respondents answered questions about six needs that closely resemble those in Maslow’s model: basic needs (food, shelter); safety; social needs (love, support); respect; mastery; and autonomy. They also rated their well-being across three discrete measures: life evaluation (a person’s view of his or her life as a whole), positive feelings (day-to-day instances of joy or pleasure), and negative feelings (everyday experiences of sorrow, anger, or stress).

The results of the study support the view that universal human needs appear to exist regardless of cultural differences. However, the ordering of the needs within the hierarchy was not correct.
“Although the most basic needs might get the most attention when you don’t have them,” Diener explains, “you don’t need to fulfill them in order to get benefits [from the others].” Even when we are hungry, for instance, we can be happy with our friends. “They’re like vitamins,” Diener says about how the needs work independently. “We need them all.”

Source : http://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html

vs.

Max Neef Model of Human Scale Development

Manfred max- Neef is a Chilean Economist. He defines the model as a taxonomy of human needs and a process by which communities can identify their “wealths” and “poverties” according to how these needs are satisfied.

He describes needs as being constant through all cultures and across historical time periods. The thing that changes with time and across cultures is the way that these needs are satisfied. According to the model human needs are to be understood as a system i.e. they are interrelated and interactive.

According to Max Neef the fundamental needs of humans are

• subsistence
• protection
• affection
• understanding
• participation
• leisure
• creation
• identity
• freedom

Max-Neef further classifies Satisfiers (ways of meeting needs) as follows.

1. Violators: claim to be satisfying needs, yet in fact make it more difficult to satisfy a need.

2. Pseudo Satisfiers: claim to be satisfying a need, yet in fact have little to no effect on really meeting such a need.

3. Inhibiting Satisfiers: those which over-satisfy a given need, which in turn seriously inhibits the possibility of satisfaction of other needs.

4. Singular Satisfiers: satisfy one particular need only. These are neutral in regard to the satisfaction of other needs.

5. Synergistic Satisfiers: satisfy a given need, while simultaneously contributing to the satisfaction of other needs.

It is interesting to note that Max-Neef came from Chile which was a socialist nation and therefore his model was more inclusive by considering society at large.

Hi, this article is a part of a series of articles I am writing while studying Design Led Innovation at Srishti Institute of Art, Design & Technology. They are meant to be reflections on things I learn or read about during this time.I look forward to any feedback or crit that you can provide. :)"
nhakhandelwal  2016  abrahammaslow  manfredmaxneef  psychology  self-actualization  humans  humanneeds  needs  motivation  safety  self-esteem  respect  mastery  autonomy  emotions  humandevelopment  creation  freedom  identity  leisure  understanding  participation  affection  protection  subsistence  classideas  sfsh  chile  culture  systemsthinking  humanscale  scale 
august 2017 by robertogreco
Why We’re Launching Redefining Masculinity | Thrive Global
"How the changing definition of what it means to be a man affects the way we work and live."



"What does it mean to be a real man? What does it mean to be a good man? Those are the questions Stony Brook University sociologist Michael Kimmel, who pioneered the field of masculinity studies, asks his students when first broaching the subject. The responses tend to contrast: a real man is tough, maybe a little aloof, certainly brawny; a good man is dependable, takes care of his family, and definitely capable.

These differences speak to just how complicated, variable, and amorphous masculinity is right now, and how much the definitions of “becoming a man” that guys carry around are actually artifacts of their upbringing. As Kimmel, the founder of the Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities at Stony Brook, explained to Thrive Global, the hopes and despairs of males trying to be men connects everything from urban violence to Donald Trump’s road to the White House, not to mention the cultural prescriptions of professional and personal success. At the same time, public life is seeing leaders revise gender norms: Jay-Z, Brad Pitt, and Prince Harry are opening up, Wonder Woman continues to rule the box office, and Michelle Obama and Angela Merkel serve as guiding lights in domestic and international politics. Meanwhile, the rise of women's rights and the decline of traditionally masculine labor have put unexamined gender roles into a bind—the robots are coming for men. And the jobs being added are traditionally thought of as "women's work," to boot.

It is precisely because of masculinity’s many intersections with the world’s biggest social trends that Thrive Global has decided to put together an editorial initiative called Redefining Masculinity. We will show how blinkered, machismo-driven notions of masculinity imprison men in their careers and relationships and impact the workplace for women, and how a more evolved, examined, and expressive manhood can not only improve mental health, but literally save lives. Given the tremendous amount men are acculturated to finding their identities (solely) in their roles at work, changing the workplace for both men and women requires examining the connection (and disconnection) between manhood, masculinity, and machismo.

Launching this week, the section kicks off with a profile of Becoming A Man, a mindful masculinity program in Chicago that reduces teen violence by 40 percent. We’ll also dive into why, as economists have found, so many swaths of American men are getting less marriageable. We have stars across fields taking over our Instagram, and a host of male leaders opening up in interviews about what manhood means to them, and how they seek to become good men. In 2017, it’s taken as an article of faith that gender is a spectrum, but what’s less agreed on—and what we’re going to dive into—is what it means to identify as a man.

Stories thus far:

• Why American Men Are Getting Less Marriageable

• What Donald Trump, Frats, And Feeling Powerless Can Teach Us About Men

• How Masculinity Training Is Curbing Teen Violence In Chicago

• Rembert Browne On Manhood, Malcolm X, And ‘Being Vulnerable, But Not Soft’

• Andy Cohen on TV Dads, the Marlboro Man and Caitlyn Jenner

• PureWow CEO Ryan Harwood on What Being A Father Taught Him About Masculinity

• CrossFit Guru Kelly Starrett On Manhood, Raising Daughters And Rites Of Passage

• Dylan Bowman: What It Means To Be A Man When You Run 100-Mile Races For A Living

• Ben Lerer: Masculinity Is 'All Part Of Just Being Comfortable In Your Own Skin'

• Lewis Howes: Men, It’s Time to Take Off the Masks

• Parents Now Prefer to Have Daughters Over Sons

• Stuart Fitzwilliam: How I Fell Apart as a New Father

• Tony Porter: What Healthy Manhood Means to Me

• Jack Cheng: Masculinity Is Pursuing Truth And Expressing The Self

• Jay Edidin: How to Be a Guy

• Brad Stulberg: Masculinity Is Wisdom, Toughness, And Stability In The Midst Of Uncertainty

• Blackbird CEO Ross Martin On "Wonder Woman" and Fatherhood

• Joseph Gelfer: We Need To 'Undefine' Masculinity

• Masculinity Is 'Being What You Need To Be' To Do What Needs To Get Done

• This Masculinity Camp for Boys Starts at Age 8

· What Restauranteur Adam Elzer Teaches His 3-Year-Old About Life

· How to Pursue Love and Purpose While Still Being Kind

· Eric Franchi on How Having a Child Changes Your Worldview"
masculinity  culture  drakebaer  donaldtrump  mnhood  rembertbrowne  andycohen  ryanharwood  kellystarrett  dylanbowman  benlerer  lewishowes  stuartfitzwilliam  tonyporter  jayedidin  bradstulberg  rossmartin  josephgelfer  boys  adamelzer  ericfanchi 
august 2017 by robertogreco
Let’s Get Excited About Maintenance! - The New York Times
"Americans have an impoverished and immature conception of technology, one that fetishizes innovation as a kind of art and demeans upkeep as mere drudgery."



"While innovation — the social process of introducing new things — is important, most technologies around us are old, and for the smooth functioning of daily life, maintenance is more important. Statistics are difficult to come by, since American federal agencies do not account for maintenance costs in a standard way. But in the computer industry, software maintenance — that is, fixing bugs and distributing upgrades — can account for more than 60 percent of total costs. According to one study, roughly 70 percent of engineers work on maintaining and overseeing existing things rather than designing new ones.

It’s not just maintenance that our society fails to appreciate; it’s also the maintainers themselves. We do not grant them high social status or high salaries. Typically, maintenance is a blue-collar occupation: mechanic, plumber, janitor, electrician. There are white-collar maintainers (like the I.T. crowd) and white-jacket maintainers (like dentists). But they, too, are not celebrated like the inventor.

Once you notice this problem — innovation is exalted, maintenance devalued — you begin to see it everywhere. The entrepreneur and inventor Elon Musk, for example, announced on Thursday that he had been given “verbal” government approval for an underground transportation system between New York and Washington. He has also proposed a similar project that would revolutionize transportation in Los Angeles by creating an enormous system of underground traffic tunnels.

Apart from the practical problem, in Los Angeles, of creating a tunnel system in a region known for geological instability, Mr. Musk’s idea indulges a fantasy common among Silicon Valley types: that the best path forward is to scrap existing reality and start over from scratch. With urban transport, as with so many other areas of our mature industrial society, a clean slate is rarely a realistic option. We need to figure out better ways of preserving, improving and caring for what we have.

Always eager for the photo-op and the exciting new announcement, politicians, too, prefer creating shiny new things to maintaining old, dingy ones. Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York is an enthusiastic supporter of the Brooklyn Queens Connector, a proposed streetcar line that would cost many billions of dollars to build and run. But a recent report by the Transit Center, a public transportation advocacy group, estimates that New York City bus service could be greatly improved with relatively small costs and a few simple fixes like redesigning bus routes — giving the city far more bang for its buck.

Unlike innovation, which has a cottage industry devoted to its study and cultivation, maintenance is not something we spend a lot of time trying to understand better. Perhaps if we thought harder about it, we would grant it the prestige and the funding it deserves.

There is certainly a financial reward to greater understanding: Maintenance is big business. Giant industrial corporations like General Electric and Boeing make heavy investments in tools and procedures for predictive maintenance, since their success depends on the reliability of their products and the existence of orderly routines to follow when things break down. Even in the digital industries, where the gospel of innovation is sacrosanct, the kings of “disruption” — Netflix, Amazon — keep their customers happy only through reliable and well-maintained data and distribution networks.

To shift our focus from innovation to maintenance would also create an opportunity for greater political consensus. Maintenance is an area of public policy where conservatives and progressives should see eye to eye. The conservative tradition asks us to preserve what we have inherited from our ancestors, and the progressive tradition seeks to provide the greatest good for the greatest number. What better way to do this than to maintain the technologies bequeathed to us by past generations, and to recognize and reward the efforts of the maintainers who keep our society working?"
maintenance  care  caring  upkeep  2017  technology  politics  innovation  culture  society  ndrewrussell  leevinsel 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Teju Cole en Instagram: “⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Lucerne, last year. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ The priest at prayer is not at all concerned with originality. The prophet at the moment of…”
"Lucerne, last year.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
The priest at prayer is not at all concerned with originality. The prophet at the moment of utterance accepts it, but knows that the real interest is elsewhere. For both, presence is the heart of the matter.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Of the many things of monumental scale made of gold in ancient times, almost none survive. The gold is always melted down at the next conquest. What survives? Little figurines carved in stone, the size of a hand or smaller.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
The boxes wilt in a few weeks, the man who made the photographs dies some years later. But the photograph of the boxes lives on, the presence (and in fact the moment of happiness) they embed outlasts their materiality, and they might be looked at again, in some form, in 2116."
tejucole  2016  survival  culture  gold  prophets  presence  persistence  materiality 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Delete Your Account Podcast
"Delete Your Account is a new podcast hosted by journalist Roqayah Chamseddine and her plucky sidekick Kumars Salehi. Every week they will talk about important stories from the worlds of politics and pop culture, both on and off-line, in a way that will never bore you. They’re radical leftists, but not that kind. The other kind. The fun kind."

[See also: https://www.patreon.com/deleteyouraccount
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/delete-your-account/id1121355704

"Delete Your Account is a new podcast hosted by journalist Roqayah Chamseddine and her plucky sidekick Kumars Salehi. Every week we will talk about important stories from the worlds of politics and pop culture, both on and off-line, in a way that will never bore you."]
podcasts  roqayahchamseddine  kumarssalehi  politics  culture  left  radicalism  radicalleft 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Danza de Los Superhéroes: Zapotec Immigrant Tradition in Transnational Transfer – Boom California
"Now, as performed, Los Superhéroes is no joke. Its performative function is one where Familia Zapoteca breathes new life into a dance tradition that enables them to make sense of being in diaspora."



"Alejo speaks with self-assurance and without a hint of satirical intent. He is hopeful and confident because he knows that behind the paper-plate shield of Captain America, deep beneath the backpacks bulging out Santa Claus’s belly, and the countless folded garments that shape up the characters, there lays the fundamental grain of a tradition that allows the dancers to sustain a dance that incorporates what is foreign into their own. For that reason, the dancers rehearse each step arduously."
familiazapoteca  losangeles  tradition  diaspora  dance  2017  performance  leopoldopeña  mexico  us  california  culture  luisdelgado 
july 2017 by robertogreco
There's a translation joke for Korean-Americans in the subtitles of Okja.
"There are many excellent jokes in Okja, Bong Joon-ho’s genre-mashing movie about the titular GMO super-pig and its kid caretaker Mija, which is now streaming on Netflix. There are poop jokes; there are Tilda Swinton’s braces; there are references that run the high-low gamut, including a re-creation of the Obama war-room photo and Andrew Lincoln’s poster-board confessional from Love Actually. But there’s another joke buried in the subtitles, a little gem reserved for that special group of people who can speak both Korean and English.

The moment happens when the radical animal-rights group ALF (the Animal Liberation Front), headed by Jay (Paul Dano), ostensibly rescues Okja from the Mirando corporation. But what they’re really trying to do is use Okja as a mole to expose Mirando’s animal-rights abuses. To do this, they would have to hack into Okja’s monitoring system and allow the super-pig to be taken back to the lab. Jay won’t go through with the plan without Mija’s (Ahn Seo-hyun) consent, but the only way to communicate with her is through fellow ALF member K, a Korean-American character played by Steven Yeun. When they ask Mija what she wants to do, she says that all she wants is to go back to the mountains with Okja, but K lies and says that she agrees to the plan, much to the delight of his comrades.

[screenshot]

With that, each ALF member jumps out of the truck into the Han River below, with K the last to go. According to the subtitles, his parting words to Mija are “Mija! Try learning English. It opens new doors!” In an earlier version I watched, the subtitle read, “How’s my Korean?” What he actually says is “Mija! Also, my name is Koo Soon-bum.”

[screenshot]

It’s a flagrant mistranslation—but one that would only be apparent to those who can speak both languages. Moreover, the mistranslation is a clever subversion of the supremacy of English. The subtitle is a command to learn English—something that every Korean student has heard throughout her life—but to actually understand what K is saying, you would have to know Korean. There’s an added layer of comedy to the name itself, which has the whiff of the old country about it: “Koo Soon-bum” is sort of like a white man saying his name is “Buford Attaway.” As Yeun told me, “When he says ‘Koo Soon-bum,’ it’s funny to you if you’re Korean, because that’s a dumb name. There’s no way to translate that. That’s like, the comedy drop-off, the chasm between countries.”

Bong wrote the character of K specifically with Yeun in mind, because he’s a character that only a Korean-American could play. Yeun’s performance itself is a nod to that gap; it reads differently if you know Korean. While it’s obvious that he’s a bit of a dolt, if you have the ear for the language, his failures are more apparent, because he speaks with the stiltedness of a second-generation speaker (Yeun’s actual pronunciation is a lot better). He’s not quite sure of himself, and is trying to fit into both spaces, but can’t. (This is also why the other subtitle joke that I saw, “How’s my Korean?” works in a subtler way.) Yeun said the character “speaks to the island we live on”: He was a character written for Korean-Americans.

Throughout Okja, Bong plays with the idea of translation, both its necessities and inherent limitations, and the inevitable comedy that arises out of that space. When Jay learns that K deliberately lied, he starts to beat him up, telling him to “never mistranslate!” Toward the end of the movie, K pops back up with a fresh tattoo that reads, “Translations are sacred.”

[screenshot]

Part of what makes Okja so remarkable is that Bong Joon-ho has found ways to make jokes that track across both cultural spheres. Unlike the wave of male Korean directors who crossed over into Hollywood around the same time, Park Chan-wook on Stoker or Kim Jee-woon with The Last Stand, Bong never let go of his roots. He cast Korean actors Song Kang-ho and Ko Ah-sung and had them speaking Korean dialogue alongside Hollywood stars Chris Evans and Octavia Spencer in his dystopian train ride thriller Snowpiercer. He furthers the Korean-American dynamic in Okja, centering on a young Korean girl and pitting her against the forces of an American corporation headed by Tilda Swinton’s knobby-kneed CEO. Just as the dialogue shifts seamlessly between both languages, Bong easily trots around the world, from the Korean countryside dotted with persimmon trees to the underground shopping malls of Seoul to the streets of New York City.
“Director Bong is probably one of the few, if not the only, people I’ve seen so far, that’s been able to bridge the two together,” said Yeun. “I don’t mean being able to do an American movie—a lot of directors could probably do that—but bridging the two cultures together in a cohesive way. That’s a tall order, and somehow, he accomplishes that.”"
language  translation  korean  film  okja  bongjoon-ho  stevenyeun  subtlety  via:sophia  culture  thirdculturekids  liminalspaces  2017 
july 2017 by robertogreco
The Silicon Valley Billionaires Remaking America’s Schools - The New York Times
"The involvement by some of the wealthiest and most influential titans of the 21st century amounts to a singular experiment in education, with millions of students serving as de facto beta testers for their ideas. Some tech leaders believe that applying an engineering mind-set can improve just about any system, and that their business acumen qualifies them to rethink American education.

“They are experimenting collectively and individually in what kinds of models can produce better results,” said Emmett D. Carson, chief executive of Silicon Valley Community Foundation, which manages donor funds for Mr. Hastings, Mr. Zuckerberg and others. “Given the changes in innovation that are underway with artificial intelligence and automation, we need to try everything we can to find which pathways work.”

But the philanthropic efforts are taking hold so rapidly that there has been little public scrutiny."



"But many parents and educators said in interviews that they were unaware of the Silicon Valley personalities and money influencing their schools. Among them was Rafranz Davis, executive director of professional and digital learning at Lufkin Independent School District, a public school system in Lufkin, Tex., where students regularly use DreamBox Learning, the math program that Mr. Hastings subsidized, and have tried Code.org’s coding lessons.

“We should be asking a lot more questions about who is behind the curtain,” Ms. Davis said."
automation  education  personalization  facebook  summitpublicschools  markzuckerberg  publicschools  edtech  data  chaters  culture  2017  marcbenioff  influence  democracy  siliconvalley  hourofcode  netflix  algorithms  larrycuban  rafranzdavis  salesforce  reedhastings  dreamboxlearning  dreambox  jessiewoolley-wilson  surveillance  dianetavenner 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Different languages: How cultures around the world draw shapes differently — Quartz
"How do you draw a circle? We analyzed 100,000 drawings to show how culture shapes our instincts"



"Did you start at the top or bottom? Clockwise or counterclockwise? New data show that the way you draw a circle holds clues about where you come from.

In November, Google released an online game called Quick, Draw!, in which users have 20 seconds to draw prompts like “camel” and “washing machine.” It’s fun, but the game’s real aim is to use those sketches to teach algorithms how humans draw. By May this year, the game had collected 50 million unique drawings.

We used the public database from Quick, Draw! to compare how people draw basic shapes around the world. Our analysis suggests that the way you draw a simple circle is linked to geography and cultural upbringing, deep-rooted in hundreds of years of written language, and significant in developmental psychology and trends in education today.

Circles, a universal form

Revered by the ancient Greeks, essential to Islamic art, and venerated in Zen and Tibetan Buddhism, circles are a universal shape. No matter where you begin, there are really only two ways to draw a circle, a single stroke heading clockwise, or a single stroke heading counterclockwise.

Google’s dataset contains 119,000 unique circles drawn by people in 148 countries, and includes coordinates for the path traced by each player’s finger (or mouse). Applying some simple geometry to data from the 66 countries that submitted over 100 circles, we identified the circle-drawing directions favored by different nations.

Americans tend to draw circles counterclockwise. Of nearly 50,000 circles drawn in the US, 86% were drawn this way. People in Japan, on the other hand, tend to draw circles in the opposite direction. Of 800 circles drawn in Japan, 80% went clockwise. Here’s a random sample of 100 circles people drew in each country:

[image]

British, Czech, Australian, and Finnish circles were drawn in the same direction, with the same consistency, as American ones. Some countries are even more regular—around 90% of French, German, and Filipino drawers submitted circles drawn counterclockwise. In Vietnam, a full 95% were drawn this way.

[image]

Most of the world, it seems, draws circles counterclockwise, with just two exceptions from our dataset: Taiwan and Japan."



"There are countless ways that we subtly, unconsciously carry our cultures with us: the way we draw, count on our fingers, and imitate real-world sounds, to name a few. That’s the delight at the heart of this massive dataset. To test our theories, we approached colleagues, friends, and family who write in Japanese, Arabic, Hebrew, Chinese, Thai, and Vietnamese, and, feeling a bit silly, asked them to draw circles. They gladly jumped in, wondering what their fingers would do, and eager to feel part of something larger.

But there’s still plenty we don’t know. Interest in shape-drawing seems to have gone out of style in psychology. With one exception, all of the research we found on cultural shape-drawing and the torque test was from before 1997. Increasingly, people around the world communicate by typing and tapping, but while the art of handwriting might someday get lost all together, perhaps we’re already forming a whole new crop of keyboard-led cultural differences."
us  japan  japanese  srg  circles  classideas  2017  culture  taiwan  chinese  scripts 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Spotlight: Senongo Akpem — Responsive Web Design
"We talk a lot about how designs transform across devices. Senongo Akpem talks to us this week about how his design and illustration work explores a multicultural story across different societies."
senongoakpem  2017  design  webdesign  culturalresponsiveness  webdev  culture 
june 2017 by robertogreco
David Byrne | Journal | ELIMINATING THE HUMAN
"My dad was an electrical engineer—I love the engineer's’ way of looking at the world. I myself applied to both art school AND to engineering school (my frustration was that there was little or no cross-pollination. I was told at the time that taking classes in both disciplines would be VERY difficult). I am familiar with and enjoy both the engineer's mindset and the arty mindset (and I’ve heard that now mixing one’s studies is not as hard as it used to be).

The point is not that making a world to accommodate oneself is bad, but that when one has as much power over the rest of the world as the tech sector does, over folks who don’t naturally share its worldview, then there is a risk of a strange imbalance. The tech world is predominantly male—very much so. Testosterone combined with a drive to eliminate as much interaction with real humans as possible—do the math, and there’s the future.

We’ve gotten used to service personnel and staff who have no interest or participation in the businesses where they work. They have no incentive to make the products or the services better. This is a long legacy of the assembly line, standardising, franchising and other practices that increase efficiency and lower costs. It’s a small step then from a worker that doesn’t care to a robot. To consumers, it doesn’t seem like a big loss.

Those who oversee the AI and robots will, not coincidentally, make a lot of money as this trend towards less human interaction continues and accelerates—as many of the products produced above are hugely and addictively convenient. Google, Facebook and other companies are powerful and yes, innovative, but the innovation curiously seems to have had an invisible trajectory. Our imaginations are constrained by who and what we are. We are biased in our drives, which in some ways is good, but maybe some diversity in what influences the world might be reasonable and may be beneficial to all.

To repeat what I wrote above—humans are capricious, erratic, emotional, irrational and biased in what sometimes seem like counterproductive ways. I’d argue that though those might seem like liabilities, many of those attributes actually work in our favor. Many of our emotional responses have evolved over millennia, and they are based on the probability that our responses, often prodded by an emotion, will more likely than not offer the best way to deal with a situation.

Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio wrote about a patient he called Elliot, who had damage to his frontal lobe that made him unemotional. In all other respects he was fine—intelligent, healthy—but emotionally he was Spock. Elliot couldn’t make decisions. He’d waffle endlessly over details. Damasio concluded that though we think decision-making is rational and machinelike, it’s our emotions that enable us to actually decide.

With humans being somewhat unpredictable (well, until an algorithm completely removes that illusion), we get the benefit of surprises, happy accidents and unexpected connections and intuitions. Interaction, cooperation and collaboration with others multiplies those opportunities.

We’re a social species—we benefit from passing discoveries on, and we benefit from our tendency to cooperate to achieve what we cannot alone. In his book, Sapiens, Yuval Harari claims this is what allowed us to be so successful. He also claims that this cooperation was often facilitated by a possibility to believe in “fictions” such as nations, money, religions and legal institutions. Machines don’t believe in fictions, or not yet anyway. That’s not to say they won’t surpass us, but if machines are designed to be mainly self-interested, they may hit a roadblock. If less human interaction enables us to forget how to cooperate, then we lose our advantage.

Our random accidents and odd behaviors are fun—they make life enjoyable. I’m wondering what we’re left with when there are fewer and fewer human interactions. Remove humans from the equation and we are less complete as people or as a society. “We” do not exist as isolated individuals—we as individuals are inhabitants of networks, we are relationships. That is how we prosper and thrive."
davidbyrne  2017  automation  ai  business  culture  technology  dehumanization  humanism  humanity  gigeconomy  labor  work  robots  moocs  socialmedia  google  facebook  amazon  yuvalharari  social  productivity  economics  society  vr  ebay  retail  virtualreality 
june 2017 by robertogreco
My Emerging Future: The Stories I Live as First Nations Abroad - Long View on Education
"It was in university when I read Thomas King that I first heard the phrase “passing for white”, and everything clicked. And in the very next instant I recoiled: was I stealing whiteness and wrapping myself in it?

In my life, I have only experienced white privilege: I look white, my name sounds like it could be German. My grandpa looked ‘visually Indian’ and I can’t imagine the discrimination that he faced throughout his life. But the privilege of passing for white is complex because it also means that many First Nations people are invisible. Were Thomas King giving a lecture on Shakespeare, you might not even know he is an Indian. Thus, the desire that I have often felt to be more “visually Indian”. I often feel too pale, and when my skin quickly turns golden brown in the sun, I feel somewhat more at home in my body.

But of course that desire to be visible is one that I, and King, can afford. King says, “Middle-class Indians, such as myself, can, after all, afford the burden of looking Indian. There’s little danger that we’ll be stuffed into the trunk of a police cruiser and dropped off out the outskirts of Saskatoon.”

King talks about his own desire to have been more “visually Indian”, and with his mix of comedy and pain, he tells a story of how his prom date turned him down because her dad didn’t want her dating Mexicans.

I’m not culturally connected to the Six Nations community, and now that I have made Brussels my home, it’s unlikely that I will develop those connections. For a long time I felt at fault for that lack of connection. But being disconnected isn’t my fault, or my parents’ fault – it’s the intentional erasure carried out by settler colonialism, which is supposed to turn Indians into white people. Or kill them. In Canada, it’s doing both.

Every year, I play Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s talk about the dangers of a single story for my class. We have so many single stories that reduce people to stereotypes and strip away their humanity: about what girls can’t do and how women should look; about the criminality or entertainment value of Black people; about the danger immigrants and refugees pose to society; about the uselessness of people with disabilities or mental illness, and burden of the elderly.

I ask my kids, are all single stories dangerous? What about the story that all Canadians are nice?

You can see where I’m going, but my students fall for it.

When I accompanied students on a field trip to Normandy, we had some time on Juno beach. Both my grandfathers arrived in Europe shortly after d-Day. The one story of my maternal (white) grandfather is a relatively straightforward war story to tell, as far as those stories go. The other, about my grandpa Doxtdator, is more difficult to relate because at the same time as soldiers ‘fought for our freedom’, the Canadian government stole land known as Ipperwash from the Chippewa people in 1942 and turned it into a military training camp. In fact, both of my grandfathers trained at Ipperwash, stolen land that wouldn’t be fully returned until 2016, over twenty years after Dudley George was killed by the Ontario Provincial Police during a protest in 1995. During an inquiry into the shooting of George, OPP officers are on tape saying that they have “tried to pacify and pander to these people far too long”, and Mike Harris, the Premier of Ontario reportedly said, “I want the fucking Indians out of the park.”

When my grandpa Doxtdator returned from the war, he also returned to the ongoing ‘residential school‘ system, that removed Native children from their families, stripped them from their culture, experimented on them, and ultimately resulted in the deaths of 6,000 children. This system only officially came to an end in 1996.

When my grandpa Doxtdator returned from the war, he also returned with one less eye.

As an English teacher, I take representation seriously. As a student that never saw a living Indian in my school curriculum, I take representation personally. And that’s not to ignore other problems in the education system, such as the access to quality schools for First Nations children, but all systemic issues are connected, and all are related to representation and voice, too. Who is listened to? Who gets to tell the stories about Native people?

Speaking of stories, when’s the last time you heard a story about Indians with a happy ending?

In the book version of the lectures, King provides an Afterward that is a private story that he does not tell orally. I’ll let you read it for yourself someday. But to spoil the moral, King bravely turns the lens on his own shortcomings and how he feels sorry for a world he has, in some small part, helped to create:
“A world in which I allow my intelligence and goodwill to be constantly subverted in pursuit of my comfort and pleasure… I find it easier to tell myself the story of my failure as a friend, as a human being, than to have to live the story of making a sustained effort to help.”

I’m not going to have that ‘authentically’ Indian story to live, and I have stopped wanting it or thinking of the problem in those ways. And I too have needed to tell stories about how I should have been a better person at different points in my life. My hope is that as a teacher, I make a sustained effort to give my students representations of their lives – and the lives of others – that are constructed by the people who have some stock in them. While I have not resigned myself to never recovering a cultural connection with the Six Nations, I have also done the best with my own emerging future as a teacher who doesn’t want to see the identities of children erased before they even have a chance."

[audio on YouTube: "The Truth About Stories - Thomas King - Lecture 1"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wzXQoZ6pE-M ]
benjamondoxtdator  2017  representation  whiteness  identity  indigenous  thomasking  edwardsherrifcurtis  nativeamericans  sixnations  race  racism  culture  whiteprivilege  visibility  invisibility 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Mayor Mitch Landrieu's Speech on Confederate Monuments - The Atlantic
"A piece of stone. One stone.

Both stories were history.

One story told.

One story forgotten or maybe even purposefully ignored.

As clear as it is for me today—for a long time, even though I grew up in one of New Orleans’ most diverse neighborhoods, even with my family’s long proud history of fighting for civil rights—I must have passed by those monuments a million times without giving them a second thought.

So I am not judging anybody, I am not judging people. We all take our own journey on race. I just hope people listen like I did when my dear friend Wynton Marsalis helped me see the truth. He asked me to think about all the people who have left New Orleans because of our exclusionary attitudes. Another friend asked me to consider these four monuments from the perspective of an African American mother or father trying to explain to their fifth grade daughter who Robert E. Lee is and why he stands atop of our beautiful city.

Can you do it?

Can you look into that young girl’s eyes and convince her that Robert E. Lee is there to encourage her? Do you think she will feel inspired and hopeful by that story? Do these monuments help her see a future with limitless potential? Have you ever thought that if her potential is limited, yours and mine are too?

We all know the answer to these very simple questions.

When you look into this child’s eyes is the moment when the searing truth comes into focus for us. This is the moment when we know what is right and what we must do. We can’t walk away from this truth.

And I knew that taking down the monuments was going to be tough, but you elected me to do the right thing, not the easy thing and this is what that looks like. So relocating these Confederate monuments is not about taking something away from someone else. This is not about politics; this is not about blame or retaliation. This is not a naïve quest to solve all our problems at once.

This is, however, about showing the whole world that we as a city and as a people are able to acknowledge, understand, reconcile, and most importantly, choose a better future for ourselves, making straight what has been crooked and making right what was wrong.

Otherwise, we will continue to pay a price with discord, with division and yes with violence.

To literally put the Confederacy on a pedestal in our most prominent places of honor is an inaccurate recitation of our full past, it is an affront to our present, and it is a bad prescription for our future.

History cannot be changed. It cannot be moved like a statue. What is done is done. The Civil War is over, and the Confederacy lost and we are better for it. Surely we are far enough removed from this dark time to acknowledge that the cause of the Confederacy was wrong.

And in the second decade of the 21st century, asking African Americans—or anyone else—to drive by property that they own; occupied by reverential statues of men who fought to destroy the country and deny that person’s humanity seems perverse and absurd.

Centuries old wounds are still raw because they never healed right in the first place. Here is the essential truth: we are better together than we are apart. Indivisibility is our essence.

Isn’t this the gift that the people of New Orleans have given to the world?

We radiate beauty and grace in our food, in our music, in our architecture, in our joy of life, in our celebration of death; in everything that we do. We gave the world this funky thing called jazz—the most uniquely American art form that is developed across the ages from different cultures. Think about second lines, think about Mardi Gras, think about muffaletta, think about the Saints, gumbo, red beans and rice. By God, just think.

All we hold dear is created by throwing everything in the pot; creating, producing something better; everything a product of our historic diversity.

We are proof that out of many we are one—and better for it! Out of many we are one—and we really do love it!

And yet, we still seem to find so many excuses for not doing the right thing. Again, remember President Bush’s words, “A great nation does not hide its history. It faces its flaws and corrects them.”

We forget, we deny how much we really depend on each other, how much we need each other. We justify our silence and inaction by manufacturing noble causes that marinate in historical detail. We still find a way to say “Wait—not so fast,” but like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “wait has almost always meant never.”

We can’t wait any longer. We need to change. And we need to change now. No more waiting. This is not just about statues, this is about our attitudes and behavior as well. If we take these statues down and don’t change to become a more open and inclusive society this would have all been in vain.

While some have driven by these monuments every day and either revered their beauty or failed to see them at all, many of our neighbors and fellow Americans see them very clearly. Many are painfully aware of the long shadows their presence casts; not only literally but figuratively. And they clearly receive the message that the Confederacy and the cult of the lost cause intended to deliver.

Earlier this week, as the cult of the lost cause statue of P.G.T Beauregard came down, world-renowned musician Terence Blanchard stood watch, his wife Robin and their two beautiful daughters at their side. Terence went to a high school on the edge of City Park named after one of America’s greatest heroes and patriots, John F. Kennedy. But to get there he had to pass by this monument to a man who fought to deny him his humanity.

He said, “I’ve never looked at them as a source of pride … it’s always made me feel as if they were put there by people who don’t respect us … This is something I never thought I’d see in my lifetime. It’s a sign that the world is changing.”

Yes, Terence, it is—and it is long overdue.

Now is the time to send a new message to the next generation of New Orleanians who can follow in Terence and Robin’s remarkable footsteps.

A message about the future, about the next 300 years and beyond; let us not miss this opportunity New Orleans and let us help the rest of the country do the same.

Because now is the time for choosing. Now is the time to actually make this the city we always should have been, had we gotten it right in the first place.

We should stop for a moment and ask ourselves—at this point in our history—after Katrina, after Rita, after Ike, after Gustav, after the national recession, after the BP oil catastrophe and after the tornado: If presented with the opportunity to build monuments that told our story or to curate these particular spaces, would these monuments be what we want the world to see? Is this really our story?

We have not erased history; we are becoming part of the city’s history by righting the wrong image these monuments represent and crafting a better, more complete future for all our children and for future generations. And unlike when these Confederate monuments were first erected as symbols of white supremacy, we now have a chance to create not only new symbols, but to do it together, as one people.

In our blessed land we all come to the table of democracy as equals.

We have to reaffirm our commitment to a future where each citizen is guaranteed the uniquely American gifts of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

That is what really makes America great and today it is more important than ever to hold fast to these values and together say a self-evident truth that out of many we are one. That is why today we reclaim these spaces for the United States of America. Because we are one nation, not two; indivisible with liberty and justice for all, not some. We all are part of one nation, all pledging allegiance to one flag, the flag of the United States of America. And New Orleanians are in—all of the way.

It is in this union and in this truth that real patriotism is rooted and flourishes. Instead of revering a 4-year brief historical aberration that was called the Confederacy we can celebrate all 300 years of our rich, diverse history as a place named New Orleans and set the tone for the next 300 years.

After decades of public debate, of anger, of anxiety, of anticipation, of humiliation and of frustration. After public hearings and approvals from three separate community led commissions. After two robust public hearings and a 6-1 vote by the duly elected New Orleans City Council.

After review by 13 different federal and state judges. The full weight of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government has been brought to bear and the monuments in accordance with the law have been removed.

So now is the time to come together and heal and focus on our larger task. Not only building new symbols, but making this city a beautiful manifestation of what is possible and what we as a people can become.

Let us remember what the once exiled, imprisoned and now universally loved Nelson Mandela and what he said after the fall of apartheid.

“If the pain has often been unbearable and the revelations shocking to all of us, it is because they indeed bring us the beginnings of a common understanding of what happened and a steady restoration of the nation's humanity.”

So before we part let us again state the truth clearly.

The Confederacy was on the wrong side of history and humanity. It sought to tear apart our nation and subjugate our fellow Americans to slavery. This is the history we should never forget and one that we should never again put on a pedestal to be revered.

As a community, we must recognize the significance of removing New Orleans’ Confederate monuments. It is our acknowledgment that now is the time to take stock of, and then move past, a painful part of our history.

Anything less would render generations of courageous struggle and soul-searching a truly lost … [more]
nola  neworleans  classideas  history  us  confederacy  2017  mitchlandrieu  confrontinghistory  monuments  inequality  racism  race  slavery  wyntonmarsalis  terenceblanchard  culture  division  unity  community  abrahamlincoln  robertelee  jeffersondavis  pgtbeauregard  georgewbush  barackobama  andrewjackson  henryclay  omission  civilwar  indivisibility  lexanderstephens 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Self-Directed Education—Unschooling and Democratic Schooling - Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education
"Education, broadly defined, is cultural transmission. It is the process or set of processes by which each new generation of human beings acquires and builds upon the skills, knowledge, beliefs, values, and lore of the culture into which they are born. Through all but the most recent speck of human history, education was always the responsibility of those being educated. Children come into the world biologically prepared to educate themselves through observing the culture around them and incorporating what they see into their play. Research in hunter-gatherer cultures shows that children in those cultures became educated through their own self-directed exploration and play. In modern cultures, self-directed education is pursued by children in families that adopt the homeschooling approach commonly called “unschooling” and by children enrolled in democratic schools, where they are in charge of their own education. Follow-up studies of “graduates” of unschooling and democratic schooling reveal that this approach to education can be highly effective, in today’s word, if children are provided with an adequate environment for self-education—an environment in which they can interact freely with others across a broad range of ages, can experience first-hand what is most valued in the culture, and can play with, and thereby experiment with, the primary tools of the culture."
petergray  unschooling  self-directed  self-directedlearning  learning  education  deschooling  democratic  culture  homeschool 
may 2017 by robertogreco
The Gig Economy Celebrates Working Yourself to Death - The New Yorker
"Last September, a very twenty-first-century type of story appeared on the company blog of the ride-sharing app Lyft. “Long-time Lyft driver and mentor, Mary, was nine months pregnant when she picked up a passenger the night of July 21st,” the post began. “About a week away from her due date, Mary decided to drive for a few hours after a day of mentoring.” You can guess what happened next.

Mary, who was driving in Chicago, picked up a few riders, and then started having contractions. “Since she was still a week away from her due date,” Lyft wrote, “she assumed they were simply a false alarm and continued driving.” As the contractions continued, Mary decided to drive to the hospital. “Since she didn’t believe she was going into labor yet,” Lyft went on, “she stayed in driver mode, and sure enough—ping!— she received a ride request en route to the hospital.”

“Luckily,” as Lyft put it, the passenger requested a short trip. After completing it, Mary went to the hospital, where she was informed that she was in labor. She gave birth to a daughter, whose picture appears in the post. (She’s wearing a “Little Miss Lyft” onesie.) The post concludes with a call for similar stories: “Do you have an exciting Lyft story you’d love to share? Tweet us your story at @lyft_CHI!”

Mary’s story looks different to different people. Within the ghoulishly cheerful Lyft public-relations machinery, Mary is an exemplar of hard work and dedication—the latter being, perhaps, hard to come by in a company that refuses to classify its drivers as employees. Mary’s entrepreneurial spirit—taking ride requests while she was in labor!—is an “exciting” example of how seamless and flexible app-based employment can be. Look at that hustle! You can make a quick buck with Lyft anytime, even when your cervix is dilating.

Lyft does not provide its drivers paid maternity leave or health insurance. (It offers to connect drivers with an insurance broker, and helpfully notes that “the Affordable Care Act offers many choices to make sure you’re covered.”) A third-party platform called SherpaShare, which some drivers use to track their earnings, found, in 2015, that Lyft drivers in Chicago net about eleven dollars per trip. Perhaps, as Lyft suggests, Mary kept accepting riders while experiencing contractions because “she was still a week away from her due date,” or “she didn’t believe she was going into labor yet.” Or maybe Mary kept accepting riders because the gig economy has further normalized the circumstances in which earning an extra eleven dollars can feel more important than seeking out the urgent medical care that these quasi-employers do not sponsor. In the other version of Mary’s story, she’s an unprotected worker in precarious circumstances. “I can’t pretend to know Mary’s economic situation,” Bryan Menegus at Gizmodo wrote, when the story first appeared. “Maybe she’s an heiress who happens to love the freedom of chauffeuring strangers from place to place on her own schedule. But that Lyft, for some reason, thought that this would reflect kindly on them is perhaps the most horrifying part.”

It does require a fairly dystopian strain of doublethink for a company to celebrate how hard and how constantly its employees must work to make a living, given that these companies are themselves setting the terms. And yet this type of faux-inspirational tale has been appearing more lately, both in corporate advertising and in the news. Fiverr, an online freelance marketplace that promotes itself as being for “the lean entrepreneur”—as its name suggests, services advertised on Fiverr can be purchased for as low as five dollars—recently attracted ire for an ad campaign called “In Doers We Trust.” One ad, prominently displayed on some New York City subway cars, features a woman staring at the camera with a look of blank determination. “You eat a coffee for lunch,” the ad proclaims. “You follow through on your follow through. Sleep deprivation is your drug of choice. You might be a doer.”

Fiverr, which had raised a hundred and ten million dollars in venture capital by November, 2015, has more about the “In Doers We Trust” campaign on its Web site. In one video, a peppy female voice-over urges “doers” to “always be available,” to think about beating “the trust-fund kids,” and to pitch themselves to everyone they see, including their dentist. A Fiverr press release about “In Doers We Trust” states, “The campaign positions Fiverr to seize today’s emerging zeitgeist of entrepreneurial flexibility, rapid experimentation, and doing more with less. It pushes against bureaucratic overthinking, analysis-paralysis, and excessive whiteboarding.” This is the jargon through which the essentially cannibalistic nature of the gig economy is dressed up as an aesthetic. No one wants to eat coffee for lunch or go on a bender of sleep deprivation—or answer a call from a client while having sex, as recommended in the video. It’s a stretch to feel cheerful at all about the Fiverr marketplace, perusing the thousands of listings of people who will record any song, make any happy-birthday video, or design any book cover for five dollars. I’d guess that plenty of the people who advertise services on Fiverr would accept some “whiteboarding” in exchange for employer-sponsored health insurance.

At the root of this is the American obsession with self-reliance, which makes it more acceptable to applaud an individual for working himself to death than to argue that an individual working himself to death is evidence of a flawed economic system. The contrast between the gig economy’s rhetoric (everyone is always connecting, having fun, and killing it!) and the conditions that allow it to exist (a lack of dependable employment that pays a living wage) makes this kink in our thinking especially clear. Human-interest stories about the beauty of some person standing up to the punishments of late capitalism are regular features in the news, too. I’ve come to detest the local-news set piece about the man who walks ten or eleven or twelve miles to work—a story that’s been filed from Oxford, Alabama; from Detroit, Michigan; from Plano, Texas. The story is always written as a tearjerker, with praise for the person’s uncomplaining attitude; a car is usually donated to the subject in the end. Never mentioned or even implied is the shamefulness of a job that doesn’t permit a worker to afford his own commute.

There’s a painful distance between the chipper narratives surrounding labor and success in America and the lived experience of workers. A similar conflict drove Nathanael West, in 1934, to publish the novel “A Cool Million,” which satirized the Horatio Alger bootstrap fables that remained popular into the Great Depression. “Alger is to America what Homer was to the Greeks,” West once wrote. His protagonist in “A Cool Million,” Lemuel Pitkin, is an innocent, energetic striver, tasked with saving his mother’s house from foreclosure. A series of Alger-esque plot twists ensue. But Pitkin, rather than triumphing, ends up losing his teeth, his eye, his leg, his scalp, and finally his thumb. Morris Dickstein, in his book “Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression,” notes, “The novel ends with Lem as a vaudeville clown being beaten nightly until he simply falls apart.” A former President named Shagpoke Whipple gives a speech valorizing Pitkin’s fate, extolling “the right of every American boy to go into the world and . . . make his fortune by industry.” Whipple describes Pitkin’s dismemberment—“lovingly,” Dickstein adds—and tells his audience that, through Pitkin’s hard work and enthusiastic martyrdom, “America became again American.”"
jiatolentino  gigeconomy  freelancing  capitalism  culture  work  labor  exploitation  horatioalger  lemuelpitkin  morrisdickstein  uber  lyft  fiverr  self-reliance  individualism  economics  latecapitalism  neoliberalism  health  healthinsurance  well-being  affordablecareact  sleepdeprivation 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Male Affection: A Photographic History Tour | The Art of Manliness
[via: "California Today: The Ubiquitous Bro Hug"
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/12/us/california-today-the-ubiquitous-bro-hug.html ]

"In my unending search for just the right vintage images for our articles, I have looked through thousands of photographs of men from the last century or so. One of the things that I have found most fascinating about many of these images, is the ease, familiarity, and intimacy, which men used to exhibit in photographs with their friends and compadres.

I shared a handful of these images in our very early post on the history of male friendship, but today I wanted to share almost 100 more in order to provide a more in-depth look into an important and highly interesting aspect of masculine history: the decline of male intimacy over the last century.

As you make your way through the photos below, many of you will undoubtedly feel a keen sense of surprise — some of you may even recoil a bit as you think, “Holy smokes! That’s so gay!”

The poses, facial expressions, and body language of the men below will strike the modern viewer as very gay indeed. But it is crucial to understand that you cannot view these photographs through the prism of our modern culture and current conception of homosexuality. The term “homosexuality” was in fact not coined until 1869, and before that time, the strict dichotomy between “gay” and “straight” did not yet exist. Attraction to, and sexual activity with other men was thought of as something you did, not something you were. It was a behavior — accepted by some cultures and considered sinful by others.

But at the turn of the 20th century, the idea of homosexuality shifted from a practice to a lifestyle and an identity. You did not have temptations towards a certain sin, you were a homosexual person. Thinking of men as either “homosexual” or “heterosexual” became common. And this new category of identity was at the same time pathologized — decried by psychiatrists as a mental illness, by ministers as a perversion, and by politicians as something to be legislated against. As this new conception of homosexuality as a stigmatized and onerous identifier took root in American culture, men began to be much more careful to not send messages to other men, and to women, that they were gay. And this is the reason why, it is theorized, men have become less comfortable with showing affection towards each other over the last century. At the same time, it also may explain why in countries with a more conservative, religious culture, such as in Africa or the Middle East, where men do engage in homosexual acts, but still consider homosexuality the “crime that cannot be spoken,” it remains common for men to be affectionate with one another and comfortable with things like holding hands as they walk.

Whether the men below were gay in the way our current culture understands that idea, or in the way that they themselves understood it, is unknowable. What we do know is that the men would not have thought their poses and body language had anything at all to do with that question. What you see in the photographs was common, not rare; the photos are not about sexuality, but intimacy.

These photos showcase an evolution in the way men relate to one another — and the way in which certain forms and expressions of male intimacy have disappeared over the last century.

It has been said that a picture tells a thousand words, so while I have provided a little commentary below, I invite you to interpret the photos yourselves, and to ask and discuss questions such as: “Who were these men?” “What was the nature of their relationships?” “Why has male intimacy decreased and what are the repercussions for the emotional lives of men today?”"



"Sociologists have noticed that Millennial boys seem much more comfortable with showing affection for each other than their fathers did. According to an article in The New York Times, whereas their parents might have given each other a high five, hugging has become the de facto way for teenagers to greet each other and to part ways — even to the point that non-huggers are viewed warily — and is as common among boys as girls. “We’re not afraid, we just get in and hug,” said Danny Schneider, a high school junior who was interviewed for the story. Some theorize that Millennial boys have become more comfortable with touching because their generation is less cynical and more cooperative and group-oriented.

Others posit that because so much of young people’s socialization is done online, they have a deeper need to physically connect in person to balance things out. And it may also be traced to the culture’s greater acceptance of homosexuality, although that has in turn solidified being gay as an identity, and it seems unlikely that men will cease wanting to communicate to others whether they are homosexual or heterosexual anytime soon. It also seems unlikely that in a transient and very coed, non gender-segregated society, male friendships will ever be as intense as they once were. Although even that is changing: twenty-somethings are much less likely to move these days than they have been in decades."
masculinity  history  affection  photography  culture  california 
may 2017 by robertogreco
What is NEOLIBERALISM? on Vimeo
"What is Neoliberalism? is a video by the Barnard Center for Research on Women, featuring interviews with Lisa Duggan, Miranda Joseph, Sealing Cheng, Elizabeth Bernstein, Dean Spade, Sandra K. Soto, Teresa Gowan, and Ana Amuchástegui. In the video, contributors describe the various meanings that have been attributed to the term “neoliberalism,” the neoliberal economic policies developed through the IMF and the World Bank, and the usefulness of “neoliberalism” as an organizing rubric for contemporary scholars and activists. Drawing from research on immigration policy, the prison-industrial complex, poverty management, and reproductive rights, they sketch some of neoliberalism’s intersections with gender, sexuality, race, class, and nation. Recorded Fall 2012.

What is Neoliberalism? was published in issue 11.1-11.2 of The Scholar & Feminist Online, “Gender, Justice, and Neoliberal Transformations.” See the entire issue at sfonline.barnard.edu/gender-justice-and-neoliberal-transformations for additional resources."

[Also here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7kL4p3llmHk ]

[See also: http://sfonline.barnard.edu/gender-justice-and-neoliberal-transformations/what-is-neoliberalism/ ]
2012  neoliberalism  lisaduggan  mirandajoseph  sealingcheng  latinamerica  worldbank  imf  globalization  economics  politics  liberalism  elizabethbernstein  deanspade  sandrasoto  teresagowan  us  anaamuchástegui  gender  sexuality  capitalism  elitism  marxism  neo-marxism  neo-foucaultism  wendybrown  nicholasrose  culture  society  markets  statetransformation  carceralstate  massincarceration  welfarestate  wealthconcentration  labor  work  trade  freetrade  exploitation  justice  socialjustice  immigration  prisons  systemsthinking  welfare  moralism  violence  deathpenalty  capitalpunishment  power  control  poverty  discipline  sovereignty  foucault  michelfoucault 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Jay Owens en Instagram: “Book 11 completed of 2016 is a guidebook, and I wouldn't normally count these in the year's reading tally except this one's Atlas Obscura…”
""hautepop: Book 11 completed of 2016 is a guidebook, and I wouldn't normally count these in the year's reading tally except this one's Atlas Obscura good. 111 one-page stories about the city's buildings, history & development - from the stones from a C12th Spanish monastery that lie, "like quiet odes to Ozymandias", in the Golden Gate Park arboretum, to the first European settlement of the city at Mission Dolores, and the graves of the Miwok & Ohlone people they enslaved. The Grace Cathedral labyrinths, the parrots on Telegraph Hill, the Tenderloin National Forest.

This series - from a German publisher - covers a number of Western European cities, Istanbul and NY. Worth checking out.

Background: spoils of the Christopher Kane menswear/tees sample sale I stumbled upon on Friday.

I saw... #8 the Armory, #13 Bay Lights, #37 Fog Bridge at the Exploratorium, #40 Frank Lloyd Wright Building, #47 the green roof of the Academy of Sciences, Renzo Piano, #55 Interval at the Long Now, #63 the Malloch Building, #75 de Young Museum, Herzog & de Meuron (but not up the observation tower), #79 Telegraph Hill (but not parrots), #110 Wave Organ. Evidently need to go back...

zerosociety: "...from the stones from a C12th Spanish monastery that lie..." There's a second location where stones form that monastery can be found -- the semi-hidden "Monarch Bear Grove." The grove stands on the spot where the old Monarch bear enclosure once stood, not too far from the AIDS Memorial Grove. It's not as hidden as it was even a few years ago thanks to park construction, but it's been a sacred site for Bay Area Druids and Pagans, allegedly going back to the 40's.""
jayowens  books  sanfrancisco  toread  2017  history  ohlone  miwok  spanish  telegraphhill  deyoung  californiaacademyofsciences  rnezopiano  franklloydwright  exploratorium  architecture  culture 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Dark Mountain: Issue 11 | The Dark Mountain Project
"But the lines separating these things remained – and remain – illusory. Such borders, powerful though they seem, are only one way of seeing the world; like so many human inventions, they are better understood not as facts, but stories."



"Once we break free from straight-line thinking, the truth is much more messy.

That messiness is, in part, what this book tries to articulate. Dark Mountain: Issue 11 takes as its premise the notion of endings – cultural, social, ecological, political, existential – but recognises that things seldom end, or begin, in well-mannered ways."
darkmountain  liminality  liminalspaces  seams  scars  edges  borders  2017  messiness  truth  linearity  endings  culture  society  ecology  politics 
april 2017 by robertogreco
Expand Your World, Go to the Beach in Alabama - The New York Times
"My dad and stepmom live in Mobile, Ala., and spend their vacation time an hour’s drive away in Orange Beach, Ala. This means that, throughout my life, I have regularly vacationed there as well.

Whenever I tell people in Berkeley, Calif., where I live, that I’m headed to the beach in Alabama, they are shocked. Most people outside of the Gulf Coast have no idea that Alabama has beaches — even though if you look at a map of Alabama, there is a part of it that looks as if it should belong to Florida. There is even a bar at the Alabama-Florida border that commemorates this fact. That bar is named the Flora-Bama. (Calling it the Ala-Lorida would just be ridiculous.)

I often try to convince my wife, Melissa, that we and our two daughters should vacation in Orange Beach more often. I try to persuade friends to come, too. It is the perfect fun-and-sun vacation. We stay across the street from the beach, which is perfect for my wife. The resort has an old-school arcade room with one of those claw machines, which is perfect for our older daughter, even though she has never won anything from it. And it has a lazy-river pool, where you can sit in an inner tube and let the underwater jets push you around while thinking that you may be experiencing the pinnacle of human achievement. That’s perfect for me.

But no one has taken us up on the invitation yet, because of one problematic word: Alabama. Nobody I know from the Bay Area has any interest in purposefully spending time in Alabama. Florida, maybe, but Alabama? Nah, that’s a hard pass.

I have discovered that when you are black, saying “I’m headed to the South” to someone, especially a white person who is not from the South, is like saying, “I’m headed to my own lynching and I decided to bring the rope just to make it easier on the Klansmen.”

It is one of my enduring frustrations with this country. People live in their part of the Union, and if they don’t travel a lot, then there is a tendency to believe that the other parts of America couldn’t possibly be as American as their part. You can see it in the way people in the South scrunch up their faces when they hear words like “New York,” “Chicago” and “challah.” And you can also see it in the way people on the coast narrow their eyes when they hear words like “Louisiana,” “Kentucky” and “pork rinds.”

Sometimes it gets even worse. Some people think that the things going on in other parts are actually anti-American.

I’m happy that I know how to speak “Southern.” I spent a lot of time in Alabama throughout my life. I even lived there for part of junior high and high school, so I learned the true beauty and mastery of the Southern dialect. “Y’all” is one of the greatest and most useful words ever invented. Saying you are “fixing to get ready to go” is useful, because it is a state most of us are regularly in, even if we don’t know it. It means you are thinking about maybe leaving. That is me, every time I try to go out of the house.

Southern is more than just a language. It’s also about understanding someone’s intentions. There are things people in the South say to me that I just let go, but if someone outside the South says the same thing, I’ll think to myself, “Well, I’ll be telling this story onstage tonight.”

I was in a Walgreens in Northern California once, back when I still had long dreadlocks. The cashier, a white woman, asked as she was ringing me up, “Can I touch your hair?” When you have dreadlocks you start to get used to this question. I said, “No, you can’t touch my hair,” but I said it with a smile so that we could both move on without the situation getting weirder than it already was.

A few months later, in Mobile, I was at a Krispy Kreme with my dad. A different white woman asked the same question and I said, “Sure.” I could tell that she was taking a chance by asking. It felt like more than the idle curiosity or simple objectification that I felt in Northern California. Maybe some part of me hoped that she would touch my hair, her eyes would glaze over, and then like Neo from “The Matrix” she would say something like, “I now understand how the institution of slavery is directly connected the current struggle of black people in America, and I also recognize white people’s part in that … also, I know kung fu.” That didn’t happen. But she did give me an extra doughnut.

Those types of interactions prepared me for my current career, where I travel the country and ask (and occasionally answer) “dumb questions.” When I created a pilot for CNN called “The United Shades of America,” I tried to roll all of that experience up into an hour of television. I went to Kentucky and talked to the Ku Klux Klan.

When the episode aired back in a distant time called April 2016, the major criticism I heard was: “Why are you giving the K.K.K. a platform? We already know the K.K.K. is awful.” Well, my mom taught me that there is no such thing as too much knowledge. And as gobsmacked as my liberal friends were by Donald Trump’s victory, they now know that they definitely didn’t know as much about America as they thought.

And if there was ever a time that we all should take a trip to the other parts of America and spend some time to get to know the people there, it is now.

So, who wants to come with me to Orange Beach?"
wkamaubell  alabama  language  thesouth  us  culture  stereotypes  2017  y'all  procrastination 
april 2017 by robertogreco
#Vanlife, the Bohemian Social-Media Movement - The New Yorker
"At a rest stop, a man in his fifties stepped out of a white S.U.V. and eyed the van hungrily. “I bet that can go anywhere,” he said. Smith, who seemed to have an infinite capacity for small talk, stood in the rain and chatted with him. King was fretful about the delay; sponsors were clamoring for posts. “We really need to create content,” she said. “And that’s hard to do in this concrete jungle.”"



"But, for all its twee escapism, vanlife is a trend born out of the recent recession. “We heard all these promises about what will happen after you go to college and get a degree,” Smith said. “We graduated at a time when all that turned out to be a bunch of bullshit.” The generation that’s fuelling the trend has significantly more student debt and lower rates of homeownership than previous cohorts. The rise of contract and temporary labor has further eroded young people’s financial stability. “I think there’s a sense of hopelessness in my generation, in terms of jobs,” Foster Huntington said. “And it’s cheap to live in a van.” And so, like staycations and minimalism, vanlife is an attempt to aestheticize and romanticize the precariousness of contemporary life. “It looks like they’re having fun,” Huntington said, of King and Smith. “But they’re working a lot.”"



"King and Smith have posted more than thirteen hundred photographs to their account. Scrolling through the feed in chronological order, you can see King, who shoots most of the photos, become better at composing and editing images, and at tailoring them to what the audience wants to see. In the early days, she took pictures of flowers and sunsets. “I’d never post something like that now,” she said, looking at a closeup of ripening blackberries, from four years ago. As I thumbed toward the top of the screen, I had the disconcerting sense of watching a life become a life-style brand."

[See also:

"The True Cost of Vanlife"
http://www.climbing.com/news/true-cost-vanlife/

"Want to Live That #VanLife? Here’s How to Get the Van"
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-04-27/want-to-live-that-vanlife-here-s-how-to-get-the-van

https://www.instagram.com/wheresmyofficenow/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YwjvU15-d1Y ]
vanlife  instagram  socialmedia  latecapitalism  advertising  culture  2017 
april 2017 by robertogreco
Evicted by Matthew Desmond review – what if the problem of poverty is that it’s profitable to other people? | Books | The Guardian
"What if the dominant discourse on poverty is just wrong? What if the problem isn’t that poor people have bad morals – that they’re lazy and impulsive and irresponsible and have no family values – or that they lack the skills and smarts to fit in with our shiny 21st-century economy? What if the problem is that poverty is profitable? These are the questions at the heart of Evicted, Matthew Desmond’s extraordinary ethnographic study of tenants in low-income housing in the deindustrialised middle-sized city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin."



"The main condition holding them back, Desmond argues, is rent. The standard measure is that your rent should be no more than 30% of your income, but for poor people it can be 70% or more. After he paid Sherrena his $550 rent out of his welfare cheque, Lamar had only $2.19 a day for the month. When he is forced to repay a welfare cheque he has been sent in error and falls behind on rent, he sells his food stamps for half their face value and volunteers to paint an upstairs apartment, but it is not enough. People such as Lamar live in chronic debt to their landlord, who can therefore oust them easily whenever it is convenient – if they demand repairs, for example, like Doreen, or if a better tenant comes along. Sherrena liked renting to the clients of a for-profit agency that handles – for a fee – the finances of people on disability payments who can’t manage on their own. Money from government programmes intended to help the poor – welfare, disability benefits, the earned-income tax credit – go straight into the landlord’s pocket and, ironically, fuel rising housing costs. Public housing and housing vouchers are scarce. Three in four who qualify for housing assistance get nothing.

A woman sells some of her goods to make ends meet, Milwaukee. Photograph: Matthieu Paley/Corbis
What if the dominant discourse on poverty is just wrong? What if the problem isn’t that poor people have bad morals – that they’re lazy and impulsive and irresponsible and have no family values – or that they lack the skills and smarts to fit in with our shiny 21st-century economy? What if the problem is that poverty is profitable? These are the questions at the heart of Evicted, Matthew Desmond’s extraordinary ethnographic study of tenants in low-income housing in the deindustrialised middle-sized city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

You might not think that there is a lot of money to be extracted from a dilapidated trailer park or a black neighbourhood of “sagging duplexes, fading murals, 24-hour daycares”. But you would be wrong. Tobin Charney makes $400,000 a year out of his 131 trailers, some of which are little better than hovels. Sherrena Tarver, a former schoolteacher who is one of the only black female landlords in the city, makes enough in rents on her numerous properties – some presentable, others squalid – to holiday in Jamaica and attend conferences on real estate.

Desmond follows the intertwined fortunes of eight families and a host of minor characters. Arleen Belle and Doreen Hinkston are black mothers clinging to the edge of low-wage employment; Crystal and Trisha are fragile young black women whose upbringing was violent and chaotic; Lamar is a genial black father of two who lost both his legs to frostbite when he passed out on crack in an abandoned house; Scott is a white male nurse who lost his licence when he stole opioids from his patients; Larraine, also white, is a slightly brain-damaged sweet soul. It is sometimes a little hard to keep up with the storylines as they weave in and out of the text, but no matter. What is important is that Desmond takes people who are usually seen as worthless – there is even a trailer-dweller nicknamed Heroin Susie – and shows us their full humanity, how hard they struggle to retain their dignity, humour and kindness in conditions that continually drag them down.

The main condition holding them back, Desmond argues, is rent. The standard measure is that your rent should be no more than 30% of your income, but for poor people it can be 70% or more. After he paid Sherrena his $550 rent out of his welfare cheque, Lamar had only $2.19 a day for the month. When he is forced to repay a welfare cheque he has been sent in error and falls behind on rent, he sells his food stamps for half their face value and volunteers to paint an upstairs apartment, but it is not enough. People such as Lamar live in chronic debt to their landlord, who can therefore oust them easily whenever it is convenient – if they demand repairs, for example, like Doreen, or if a better tenant comes along. Sherrena liked renting to the clients of a for-profit agency that handles – for a fee – the finances of people on disability payments who can’t manage on their own. Money from government programmes intended to help the poor – welfare, disability benefits, the earned-income tax credit – go straight into the landlord’s pocket and, ironically, fuel rising housing costs. Public housing and housing vouchers are scarce. Three in four who qualify for housing assistance get nothing.

Even in the Great Depression, evictions used to be rare. Now, each year, hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of renters are put out on the street. Even a paid-up tenant can be easily evicted. Arleen loses one apartment when her son Jori throws a snowball at a passing car and the enraged driver kicks in the front door, and another when the police come after Jori when he kicks a teacher and runs home. Any kind of trouble that brings the police can lead to eviction, which means women can lose their homes if they call 911 when their man beats them up. Think about that the next time someone asks why women don’t call the cops on violent partners."



"Eviction hits black women hardest of all, and the bleak benches of housing courts, which deal with disputes between landlords and tenants, are full of black women and their children: “If incarceration had come to define the lives of men from impoverished black neighbourhoods, eviction was shaping the lives of women. Poor black men were locked up. Poor black women were locked out.”

What are the social costs of eviction? It puts incredible stress on families. It prevents people from saving the comparatively small sums that would let them stabilise their situation. They are always starting over from scratch, losing their possessions in the chaos of removal, or putting them in storage and losing them when they can’t pay the fees. An eviction on your record makes the next apartment harder to get. Eviction damages children, who are always changing schools, giving up friends and toys and pets – and living with the exhaustion and depression of their parents. We watch Jori go from a sweet, protective older brother to an angry, sullen boy subject to violent outbursts who is falling way behind in school.

Eviction makes it hard to keep up with the many appointments required by the courts and the byzantine welfare system: several characters have their benefits cut because notices are sent to the wrong address. Eviction destroys communities: when people move frequently, they don’t form the social bonds and pride in place that encourage them to care for their block and look out for their neighbours. “With Doreen’s eviction, Thirty-Second Street lost a steadying presence – someone who loved and invested in the neighbourhood, who contributed to making the block safer – but Wright Street didn’t gain one.”"
culture  economics  housing  poverty  race  2017  eviction  us  inequality  racism  kathapollitt  matthewdesmond  milwaukee 
april 2017 by robertogreco
Christopher Emdin SXSWedu 2017 Keynote - YouTube
"Merging theory and practice, connecting contemporary issues to historical ones, and providing a deep analysis on the current state of education, Dr. Emdin ushers in a new way of looking at improving schools and schooling. Drawing from themes in his New York Times Bestselling book, and the latest album from rap group A Tribe Called Quest, Emdin offers insight into the structures of contemporary schools, and highlights major issues like the absence of diversity among teachers, the ways educators of color are silenced in schools, the absence of student voice in designing teaching and learning, and a way forward in addressing these issues."
christopheremdin  education  2017  sxswedu2017  schools  diversity  teaching  learning  howweteach  howwelearn  studentvoice  listening  socialjustice  service  atribecalledquest  dinka  culture  adjustment  maladjustment  ptsd  psychology  voice  transcontextualism  johndewey  doctorseuss  traditions  children  race  racism  trauma  trayvonmartin  violence  schooling  schooltoprisonpipeline  technology  edtech  pedagogy  disenfranchisement  technosolutionism  commoncore  soul  liberation  conversation  paulofreire  credentialism  stem  coding  economics  expectations  engagement  neweconomy  equity  justice  humility  quantification  oppression  whitesupremacy  cosmopolitanism  hiphoped  youthculture  hiphop  youth  teens  appropriation  monetization  servicelearning  purpose  context  decontextualization  tfa  courage  inequality  inequity  normalization  community  curriculum  canon  complexity  chaos  nuance 
march 2017 by robertogreco
Who Gets to Be a Restaurant Critic? - Eater
"That, however, is just the trouble with standards: They don’t translate well across types of people, or the group divisions that help define those standards in the first place. The tension between haute cuisine and populism, a Times review and Yelp, is about competing ways of deciding what’s good — of whether chips should be fat and soft like in a chippy, or thin and crisp like bistro frites. But when the public discourse around food is so overwhelmingly dominated not just by highfalutin critics, but those who are often white, middle-income, and left-leaning, the assumed standards by which food is judged tend to reflect and replicate exactly those values. If critics these days seem to most value food which presents a vision, highlights the ingredients, or inventively mixes influences, it’s because those are the values of upwardly mobile, culturally omnivorous eaters who believe in conscious capitalism.

This is why the Chicken Connoisseur feels so pleasantly unusual. It checks off all the boxes for what modern food criticism looks like, self-reflexively paying attention to its own status as criticism, but instead of taking you to places with small plates, or omakase, takes you to chicken shops in Hackney or Tottenham or any number of other London areas that haven’t been entirely subsumed by gentrification. Those shops are, in a simple empirical sense, the kinds of places where millions of people eat, but that people concerned with food as signifier of cultural capital would rather ignore — perhaps because such places don’t represent change or novelty, the necessary fuel of the media, but also perhaps because the change they might stand for isn’t considered relevant. In putting a critical vocabulary people were already using into a polished, appealing YouTube show, however, Quashie ends up providing a model for what a food criticism that speaks to a broader, browner, less-wealthy audience might look like. It’s fast food, framed as a product of its place and time, by someone who is winning and funny in front of a camera, and who happens to be young and black. But Quashie also stands as a challenge to all kinds of institutional critics, urging them to grapple with — and take seriously — the things that a majority of people hold dear.

This is, I think, exactly as it should be. When literary criticism moved away from Leavis or the New Critics and started to dabble in feminism or postcolonialism, its emphasis wasn’t simply on the politics of how literature got created or the representation therein. It was also on aesthetics, so Woolf’s feminism wasn’t just in her message, but her prose. Cuisine’s import and relevance isn’t just in “what story a plating tells,” but our culturally loaded expectations about what food should be. Say what you will about four wings for around two dollars, but the demand that they be crispy and spicy is a standard, and one that people care about. At root, it’s a question of what the object and nature of criticism should be: a narrow slice of food that represents the bleeding edge and demands the language of a specialist, or a shifting set of criteria that tackle both the highbrow and the everyday without insisting one is more culturally significant than the other.

************

There is, at the dawn of 2017 — what feels like a decidedly new phase of history — something like a lesson there. In the aftermath of Brexit and Trump, there was a gnashing of teeth over the rise of populism as a transatlantic, if not global, phenomenon. But the attention paid to the gaping distance between the media and great swaths of the country was framed as either a problem to be solved using the same tools people have always deployed, or a thing to be dismissed because of ignorance or racism. When one also considers the boggling number of people who didn’t vote at all, perhaps this new era demands some sort of reckoning with what is popular, common, and reflects how the majority of people actually talk about food.

It is of course true that part of criticism’s function it to both engage in a dialectic with a craft, challenging it to do better, while also calling attention to broader, systemic issues. A food reviewer who only ever judged fried chicken joints without ever calling attention to factory farming or the environment would be in dereliction of their duty. And Quashie does at one point mention that a less-than-stellar wing from a chicken which “did not live a good life” tasted of sadness and suffering. But perhaps the first step is making room for a food criticism that speaks to people where they are, and like all criticism, through standards that they too value and understand.

At the end of Quashie’s first post-fame video, he acknowledges his sudden success — and then squints as an off-camera voice says “Chinese!” It turns out this fave, like any, is problematic. Still, it’s troubling to see talk of ethnic food that has been “elevated” by removing it from its context or, conversely, to see the food that most people eat derisively dismissed, and the Chicken Connoisseur is a rejoinder to both.

In episode 6 of The Pengest Munch — the one that first went viral and now has over 3.5 million views — Elijah Quashie mentions he chewed on a bone in a strip burger, then looks at the camera and says with a smirk, “Bossman: I don’t know wha gwan, but that can’t run. That can’t run fam.” You might also say the same of a food culture that ignores so much of the population, pretending that its own standards are somehow objective, while those of critics like Quashie are not simply arbitrary, but just wrong. If food criticism is to grapple with the populist present, that situation, it seems fair to say, fam, can’t run either."
navneetalang  culture  criticism  foodcritics  foodcriticism  food  2017  populism  elijahquashie  thepengestmunch  accessibility  elitism  everyday  standards  restaurants  howweeat 
march 2017 by robertogreco
CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts: David Hammons
"Spirits aren’t something you see or even understand. That’s just not how they work. They are too abstract, too invisible, and move too quickly. They don’t live anywhere, but only run by and pass through, and no matter how old they are, they are always light years ahead. They do what they want, whenever they want. And under specific circumstances, at specific times, in specific places, to specific people, for specific reasons, they make their presence known.

In the Congo Basin in Central Africa, they are called minkisi. They are the hiding place for people’s souls.

David Hammons is a spirit catcher. He walks the streets the way an improviser searches for notes, looking for those places and objects where dormant spirits go to hide, and empowers them again. He knows about the streetlamps and the mailboxes where the winos hide their bottles in shame. Hammons calls it tragic magic—the art of converting pain into poetry.

[David Hammons. "Spade With Chains," 1973.]

Much has been said about the materials Hammons uses in his work. Most are taken from the street and cost very little—greasy paper bags, shovels, ice, cigarettes, rubber tubes, hair, rocks, basketballs, fried food, bikes, torn plastic tarps, Kool-Aid. Some of them are (knowingly) borrowed from the vocabulary of other artists, while others are closely tied to his own life and chosen surroundings in Harlem. Much has also been said about the meaning of his work—its arguments, its politics, what it’s “about.” And while much of what has been said has been useful, it has also been partly beside the point.

Materials are something one can see, and arguments are something one can understand, and that’s just not what Hammons is after. He’s interested in how much those wine bottles still somehow contain the lips that once drank from them. He’s after the pun on spirit—as in the drink, but also as in the presence of something far more abstract.
Black hair is the oldest hair in the world. You’ve got tons of people’s spirits in your hands when you work with that stuff.

[David Hammons. "Wine Leading the Wine," 1969. Courtesy of Hudgins Family Collection, New York. Photo: Tim Nighswander/IMAGING4ART.]

If Hammons is suspicious of all that is visible, it might be because the visible, in America, is all that is white. It’s all those Oscar winners, all those museum trustees, and all those faces on all those dollar bills. Some artists work to denounce, reveal, or illustrate racial injustice, and to make visible those who are not. Hammons, on the other hand, prefers invisibility—or placing the visible out of reach. He doesn’t have a lesson to teach or a point to prove, and his act of protest is simply to abstract, because that’s what will make the visible harder to recognize and the intelligible harder to understand.

If Duchamp was uninterested in what the eye can see, Hammons is oppressed by it—it’s not the same thing.

[David Hammons. "In the Hood," 1993. Courtesy of Tilton Gallery, New York.]
I’m trying to make abstract art out of my experience, just like Thelonius Monk.

For Hammons, musicians have always been both the model and the front line. When George Lewis says that “the truth of improvisation involves survival,” it’s because improv musicians look for a way forward, one note at a time, with no map to guide them and with no rules or languages to follow other than ones they invent and determine themselves. It forces them to analyze where they are and forces them to do something about it, on their own terms. Doesn’t get much more political than that.

Or, as Miles Davis once put it, “I do not play jazz.” He plays something that invents its own vocabulary—a vocabulary that is shared only by those who don’t need to know what to call it or how to contain it. And just as Miles Davis doesn’t play jazz, David Hammons doesn’t make art.

[David Hammons. "Blue Rooms," 2000 (installation view, The Centre for Contemporary Art, Ujazdowkski Castle, Warsaw).]
I’m trying to create a hieroglyphics that was definitely black.

Hammons goes looking for spirits in music, poetry, and dirt. He knows they like to hide inside of sounds, lodge themselves between words or within puns, and linger around the used-up and the seemingly worthless. He knows he’s caught some when he succeeds in rousing the rubble and gets it to make its presence felt. Like Noah Purifoy, he ignores the new and the expensive in favor of the available. Like Federico Fellini, he spends his time in the bowels of culture and makes them sing.

[David Hammons. "(Untitled) Basketball Drawing," 2006.]

There are the materials that make the art—those are the foot soldiers—but there is also the attitude that makes the artist. Hammons has his way of thinking and his way of behaving, which is once again not something one sees or necessarily understands, but is something that makes its presence known, the way spirits make their presence felt. There will be some who won’t recognize it and others who do—and his work is meant only for those who see themselves in it.
Did you ever see Elvis Presley’s resume? Or John Lennon’s resume? Fuck that resume shit.

Ornette was Ornette because of what he could blow, but also because he never gave into other people’s agendas or expectations.

What matters even more than having your own agenda is letting others know that it doesn’t fit theirs. “To keep my rhythm,” as Hammons puts it, “there’s always a fight, with any structure.” The stakes are real because should you let your guard down, “they got rhythms for you,” and you’ll soon be thinking just like they do. And in a white and racist America, in a white and racist art world, Hammons doesn’t want to be thinking just like most people do. His is a recalcitrant politics of presence: where he doesn’t seem to belong, he appears; where he does belong, he vanishes.

In short: don’t play a game whose management you don’t control.

[David Hammons. "Higher Goals," 1987. Photo: Matt Weber.]
That’s the only way you have to treat people with money—you have to let these people know that your agenda is light years beyond their thinking patterns.

The Whitney Biennial? I don’t like the job description. A major museum retrospective? Get back to me with something I can’t understand.

Exhibitions are too clean and make too much sense—plus the very authority of many mainstream museums is premised on values that Hammons doesn’t consider legitimate or at least does not share. He is far more interested in walking and talking with Jr., a man living on the streets of the East Village, who taught him about how the homeless divide up their use of space according to lines marked by the positioning of bricks on a wall. Those lines have teeth. In a museum, art is stripped of all its menace.

[David Hammons. "Bliz-aard Ball Sale," 1983. Photo: Dawoud Bey.]

The painter Jack Whitten once explained of how music became so central to black American life with this allegory:
When my white slave masters discovered that my drum was a subversive instrument they took it from me…. The only instrument available was my body, so I used my skin: I clapped my hands, slapped my thighs, and stomped my feet in dynamic rhythms.

David Hammons began with his skin. He pressed his skin onto paper to make prints. Over the subsequent five decades, he has found his drum.

[David Hammons. "Phat Free," 1995-99 (video still). Courtesy of Zwirner & Wirth, New York.]"
davidhammons  anthonyhuberman  art  jazz  ornettecoleman  milesdavis  theloniousmonk  material  rules  trickster  outsiders  artworld  resumes  elvispresley  johnlennon  insiders  race  racism  us  power  authority  jackwhitten  music  museums  galleries  menace  homeless  nyc  management  structure  presence  belonging  expectations  artists  fellini  noahpurifoy  availability  culture  hieroglyphics  blackness  georgelewis  improvisation  oppression  marcelduchamp  visibility  invisibility  souls  spirits 
february 2017 by robertogreco
Pookleblinky on Twitter: "Here's a cool thing: most poetic devices in human culture are error-detecting codes."
"Here's a cool thing: most poetic devices in human culture are error-detecting codes.

Poetic meter, rhymes, alliteration, inflection in languages such as Latin, etc. All aided transmission as oral tradition.

From the Iliad to the Mahabharata, poetic devices and organization served to increase the fidelity over an awfully noisy channel

This structure works so well that it is possible to recreate how ancient Greek and Latin sounded, by examining their poetry.

It works so well that it's possible to recreate Shakespeare's accent, by examining his rhymes.

Most of these poetic devices, served to identify errors. You could easily tell if someone fudged a word, snuck in new lines.

Some served to correct errors. The poet has a brainfart, forgets which word is next, realizes only one synonym would fit there.

Redundancy is also a time-honored means of transmitting information through a noisy channel.

"40 days and 40 nights," multiple lazaruses, all the things that confuse and amuse modern people: they served a purpose.

Oral traditions offer a window into both information theory and human communication.

Each one reflects countless generations of trial-and-error honing of information theoretic techniques to maximize channel capacity.

People who had no clue what calculus was, who couldn't even read, figured out the hard way how to encode a message for minimal error.

People encoded their signals so robustly that they survived wars, famines, near exterminations

Some signals were encoded so well that only a handful of people were necessary for their transmission.

Oral traditions survived countless local apocalypses, due to robust encoding schemes evolved organically.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vedic_chant

Look at how many levels of encoding went into the vedic oral tradition

Each syllable was robustly encoded multiple ways. https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C5Baq_SXUAEPm9D.jpg [https://twitter.com/pookleblinky/status/833265650940395520 ]

Each syllable was subject to both error detecting and error correcting codes, optimized for how humans process language.

Each syllable's transmission exploited multiple methods by which humans process language.

The result is an oral tradition that could transmit, virtually error-free, for longer than agriculture has existed."
language  culture  oraltradition  orality  poetry  meter  rhyme  rhyming  allitertion  transmission  poems  vedicchants  errordetection 
february 2017 by robertogreco
The angel of history
"These are chaotic times. But to the angel of history, it’s not a sudden eruption of chaos, but a manifestation of an ongoing vortex of chaos that stretches back indefinitely, without any unique origin. When we’re thrust into danger, in a flash we get a more truthful glimpse of history than the simple narratives that suffice in moments of safety. As Benjamin puts it, “the tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the ‘state of emergency’ in which we live is not the exception but the rule.”

Global refugees, the stubborn pervasiveness of white supremacy, the arbitrary power of the state, the fragility of national and international institutions — we’ve been here for some time now, haven’t we? One day, you stir, and there you are — right where you’ve always been. With nothing under your feet, and ghosts pausing for breath next to your cheek.

This is not normal — and yet it’s the same as it’s always been. Because there is no normal. Not really. Just a series of accidents, a trick of the light, a collective hallucination we’ve all worked to diligently maintain."



"There are a lot of people, on the left and the right, who share a version of this idea as a matter of dogma, without anything like the Kierkegaardian leap of faith Benjamin took in order to suspend his disbelief in it. Better to knock everything down, to build something new to replace it; heighten the stakes, so we have no choice but to take drastic steps to build paradise. I’m a lot less sure. I know what it took to build those things, and the emergencies that forced us to build them. It’s not an algebra problem to me, a clever lecture, a witty conjecture. I like those. Those are fun. This is not fun. This is blood and bones and broken things that do not come back. It would be nice to have a political or religious framework in which all those things can be mended or redeemed. It’s not available to me, except in its absence.

But for all that, I think I do believe in something smaller, more limited:

• I believe that moments of emergency are shot through with new possibilities;
• I believe there are more of us and there is more to us than we know;
• I think that we are always becoming something new;
• and this is because we don’t have a choice in the matter.

I think James Baldwin is right (Baldwin, like Benjamin, is somehow always right) when he writes in “Stranger in the Village” that while so many “American white men still nourish the illusion that there is some means of recovering the European innocence, of returning to a state in which black [and brown] men [and women] do not exist,” that
This is one of the greatest errors Americans can make. The identity they fought so hard to protect has, by virtue of that battle, undergone a change: Americans are as unlike any other white people in the world as it is possible to be. I do not think, for example, that it is too much to suggest that the American vision of the world — which allows so little reality, generally speaking, for any of the darker forces in human life, which tends until today to paint moral issues in glaring black and white — owes a great deal to the battle waged by Americans to maintain between themselves and black men a human separation which could not be bridged. It is only now beginning to be borne in on us — very faintly, it must be admitted, very slowly, and very much against our will— that this vision of the world is dangerously inaccurate, and perfectly useless. For it protects our moral high-mindedness at the terrible expense of weakening our grasp of reality. People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction, and anyone who insists on remaining in a state of innocence long after that innocence is dead turns himself into a monster.
The time has come to realize that the interracial drama acted out on the American continent has not only created a new black man, it has created a new white man, too. No road whatever will lead Americans back to the simplicity of this European village where white men still have the luxury of looking on me as a stranger. I am not, really, a stranger any longer for any American alive. One of the things that distinguishes Americans from other people is that no other people has ever been so deeply involved in the lives of black men, and vice versa. This fact faced, with all its implications, it can be seen that the history of the American Negro problem is not merely shameful, it is also something of an achievement. For even when the worst has been said, it must also be added that the perpetual challenge posed by this problem was always, somehow, perpetually met. It is precisely this black-white experience which may prove of indispensable value to us in the world we face today. This world is white no longer, and it will never be white again.
"



"In short, I believe in the future — not a paradise, not a tranquil place, not a reward, but in all its mundane possibility and broken uncertainty. I choose to believe in the future, simply because we have nowhere else to go."
timcarmody  2017  culture  history  walterbenjamin  fragility  refugees  jamesbaldwin  deadwood 
february 2017 by robertogreco
Self-Directed Life Newsletter: Whatever You Want to Encourage
"I had an interesting conversation a few days ago with a parent who was frustrated about their child not reading. That is, their child COULD read, but didn’t read as much as the parent wished they would.

My questions:

Where does she get her books?

Do you go to the library? Does she go to the bookstore? Are they gifts from relatives? Did they come preinstalled on her bookshelf?

How often is she exposed to new (to her) books?

Does she go to the bookstore? Does she go to the used bookstore? Does she browse Amazon? Does she borrow books from you, from other relatives, from friends? Does she bring them home from school?

Does she have a book allowance?

Where are her books?

Are they in a basket so only the top book shows? On a shelf so only the spines show? On face-out shelves so the whole book beckons?

Are the books in her room or somewhere else in the house? Are they right next to a place where a person would want to flop down and read? Are they in sight? Are they in the heart of the home or off somewhere away from the main action?

Are they truly HER books or are they communal books (shared with other family members)?

If they are hers, does she have complete ownership over them? How many rules are there about books? (Can she take them into the bath or outside, can she eat over them or stir chocolate milk over them, can she dogear the pages or write on them, can she lend them to her friends, can she stick them down in the cushions of the couch or under her pillow?)

Where does she read? Or: Where would you expect she would do her reading?

Readers read anywhere — upside-down hanging off the couch, up in a tree, etc.

But thinking about where a child does an activity can help you figure out if there is anywhere TO do that activity.

Reading requires a comfortable place to sit (or lie down) and good light.

If you expect her to read in bed, does she have a light by the bed — on her headboard or on her bedside table? Are her books there?

If you expect her to read elsewhere, where? Think about that space. Where is the comfortable place to sit (to hook your legs over the arm of the chair or rotate so your head hangs off…), where is the light, where are the books relative to the space, and is it quiet or noisy there?

How many distractions are in or adjacent to that place? Does anything else clamor for her attention there?

Are books something your family enjoys together?

Do you go to the library weekly, visit the bookstore, give and receive books as gifts, read aloud regardless of how old your children are, talk about what you’re reading, talk about favorite books from the past, go to see the movie versions of books you’ve read together, etc. etc. etc.?

When’s the last time you talked to her about what you were reading?

Whatever it is we want to encourage, we need to look deeply at how (or whether) we’re enabling it, encouraging it, investing in it.

We can squelch the things we wish to nurture — apparently Condoleezza Rice doesn’t read for pleasure. Why? Because “her parents piled books up on her nightstand and the result was a distaste for reading.”

Yikes.

There are many other questions you could ask about why a child doesn’t read for pleasure — deeper questions about screen usage (and family strife around that topic), balance between activities, over-scheduling, autonomy, and so on — but you can start very simply with the ones above.

Whatever you want to encourage,

      Does she have what she needs to do the thing?

      Does she have a place to do it?

      Does she have time to do it?

      Does the environment suggest it and support it? (Is it possible your environment is inadvertently advertising something else instead?)

      Do you do it yourself? Is it celebrated in your family?

Before you start looking elsewhere for reasons, make sure the basics are in place and in practice.

If you immediately get stuck, you know where you need to start working."
reading  howweread  parenting  children  books  2017  lorpickert  sfsh  families  culture 
january 2017 by robertogreco
John Berger on Ways of Seeing, being an artist, and Marxism (2011) - Newsnight archives - YouTube
"John Berger - artist, writer, critic and broadcaster - has died at the age of 90. His best-known work was Ways of Seeing, a criticism of western cultural aesthetics. For Newsnight, Gavin Esler, met him back in 2011."
johnberger  spinoz  descartes  gavinesler  2011  marxism  waysofseeing  seeing  storytelling  lenses  correction  iteration  bento'ssketchbook  looking  culture  aesthetics  future  progress  justice  dignity  capitalism  growth  storytellers  art  artists 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Alliance for Self-Directed Education | Home Page
"The Alliance for Self-Directed Education (ASDE) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to informing people about the benefits of, and methods for, allowing children and adolescents to direct their own education. The Alliance’s ultimate goal, its vision, is a world in which Self-Directed Education is embraced as a cultural norm and is available to all children, everywhere, regardless of their family’s status, race, or income.

A Fundamental Premise

CONCERN FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
A fundamental premise of the Alliance is that top-down, coercive systems of schooling, imposed by states and nations, violate the human rights of children and families to direct their own lives, learning, and paths to adulthood. If there were evidence that coercive schooling were necessary for the welfare of the people on whom it is inflicted, such a system might be justifiable; but, as explained elsewhere in this website, there is no such evidence and there is much evidence to the contrary.

Why an Alliance?

BUILDING A MOVEMENT

The term Alliance in the organization’s name emphasizes its goal of bringing together the various organizations and individuals who are already actively promoting and enabling Self-Directed Education. The founders of the Alliance recognize that there are various flavors and manifestations of Self-Directed Education (for examples, varieties of home-based Self-Directed Education, democratic schools, and learning centers).

A goal of the Alliance is to create a collaborative space where we can all link arms, learn from one another, and collectively amplify the truth that is common to all of our experiences—that Self-Directed Education works! Success in achieving our common vision will depend, in large part, on the numbers of people who take an active stand and work together to support the movement.

The movement away from coercive schooling toward Self-Directed Education has been inching along for decades. It has not yet taken flight because (a) most people still don’t know about Self-Directed Education or about the success of those who have taken this route; and (b) most who do know about it shy away from it because it seems so “non-normal.”

So, the Alliance is designed to give wings to the movement by (a) using all means possible to spread the word about Self-Directed Education and its success, and (b) normalizing Self-Directed Education by making it a brand, showing how it is done, publicizing the research evidence of its success, and connecting people to the tens of thousands of families happily pursuing this route.

The Alliance is financed entirely by donations from individuals and organizations who support the cause of Self-Directed Education. All members of the Board of Directors are volunteers, who receive no financial remuneration for their work for the Alliance. Donations to the Alliance are tax deductible and allow the Board to hire freelance consultants to manage projects that would not be feasible on a purely volunteer basis."



"Education that derives from the self-chosen activities and life experiences of the person being educated.

Let’s start with the term education. In everyday language people tend to equate education with schooling, which leads one to think of education as something that is done to students by teachers. Teachers educate and students become educated. Teachers give an education and students receive this gift. But any real discussion of education requires us to think of it as something much broader than schooling.

Education is the sum of everything a person learns that enables that person to live a satisfying and meaningful life.

Education can be defined broadly in a number of ways. A useful definition for our purposes is this: Education is the sum of everything a person learns that enables that person to live a satisfying and meaningful life. This includes the kinds of things that people everywhere more or less need to learn, such as how to walk upright, how to speak their native language, how to get along with others, how to regulate their emotions, how to make plans and follow through on them, and how to think critically and make good decisions.

It also includes some culture-specific skills, such as, in our culture, how to read, how to calculate with numbers, how to use computers, maybe how to drive a car—the things that most people feel they need to know in order to live the kind of life they want to live in the culture in which they are growing up.

But much of education, for any individual, entails sets of skills and knowledge that may differ sharply from person to person, even within a given culture. As each person’s concept of “a satisfying and meaningful life” is unique, each person’s education is unique. Society benefits from such diversity.

Given this definition of education, Self-Directed Education is education that derives from the self-chosen activities and life experiences of the person becoming educated, whether or not those activities were chosen deliberately for the purpose of education.

Self-Directed Education can include organized classes or lessons, if freely chosen by the learner; but most Self-Directed Education does not occur that way. Most Self-Directed Education comes from everyday life, as people pursue their own interests and learn along the way. The motivating forces include curiosity, playfulness, and sociability—which promote all sorts of endeavors from which people learn. Self-Directed Education necessarily leads different individuals along different paths, though the paths may often overlap, as each person’s interests and goals in life are in some ways unique and in some ways shared by others.

Self-Directed Education can be contrasted to imposed schooling, which is forced upon individuals, regardless of their desire for it, and is motivated by systems of rewards and punishments, as occurs in conventional schools. Imposed schooling is generally aimed at enhancing conformity rather than uniqueness, and it operates by suppressing, rather than nurturing, the natural drives of curiosity, playfulness, and sociability."
self-directed  self-directedlearning  education  homeschool  unschooling  learning  schooling  conformity  culture  humanrights  coercion  children  akilahrichards  patfarenga  petergray  laurakriegel  jackschott  kerrymcdonald  scottnoelle  tomisparker  stephendill  cevinsoling  brookenewman  daniellelevine  jenspeterdepedro 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Why Can’t the U.S. Decolonize Its Design Education?Eye on Design | Eye on Design
"While diversity and inclusion might be ubiquitous terms in the mission statement of any progressive university, these words alone do little to address the lack of diversity within the curriculum itself. So what’s really causing this disconnect? That’s what three designers and educators—Dori Tunstall, dean at OCAD University, Sadie Red Wing, a graphic designer and member of the Lakota Tribe, and Neebinnaukzhik Southall, a graphic designer of the Chippewas of Rama First Nation—gathered to discuss on a panel at the recent AIGA Design Conference.

The issue starts with the design narrative that many schools have adopted, prioritizing European art and design histories as the key pedagogical source over non-Western design lineages. While every design student loves a good Walter Gropius story, teaching design from a Eurocentric perspective fails to reflect the diversity that exists in the student body or regional history of contemporary institutions. In North America, indigenous visual cultures have existed for thousands of years, so why are they still relegated to “special topics” classes, or to the anthropology department instead of serving as foundational principles to standard design curricula?

I followed up with the panelists after the conference to get a better understanding of why non-Western design isn’t more of a focus in higher education. Tunstall says the reason is complicated by the fact that it’s not just a conversation about aesthetics. Rather it’s “the way in which design is implicated in the politics of the nation relating to colonization in a direct way, and to a history of decimation of Native American communities.”

Tunstall, whose background is in design anthropology, says “coming from the field of anthropology, we’ve gone through a process of self-evaluation and self-reflection around the discipline’s role in colonization, and so I’m always a bit shocked by how difficult it is to have that conversation in the field of design.”

In Toronto, OCAD University has entered a new educational paradigm, following principles that Tunstall calls “respectful design.” Their goal as educators is to “prepare students to understand the cultural implications of what they’re designing, as well as understand the role they play in the creation of culture by the making of things. That leads to questions of ethics, questions of social justice, questions of accountability, appropriation, indigenization, and decolonization.”

“When you begin to ask those questions of what it means as a designer to be a culture maker, you ask harder questions about what kind of culture you’re creating.”

The Canadian government is unique in that it has made decolonization a national mandate for all educational institutions. Tunstall says that this means every Canadian educational institution has adopted the principles laid out by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which seeks to indigenize the curriculum by “increasing native representation in content and methods, as well as physically the number of indigenous people within the institutions.”

This kind of progressive policymaking is a stark contrast to the political and educational experiences of many native people living in the U.S. I spoke with Sadie Red Wing, who at the time of our conversation was en-route to Standing Rock Reservation to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline, a 1,172-mile-long oil pipeline project that crosses into sacred tribal lands and threatens to contaminate the local water supply.

Her current design work has been in support of the No DAPL protests, and reflects the language and iconography that’s indigenous to North Dakota, where she’s from originally. Red Wing says, “My priority is to advocate for my tribe in order to revive the culture we lost through assimilation and oppression. I’m always a Lakota graphic designer before I am just a graphic designer. I design for a Great Plains audience.” Her posters were produced by the Amplifier Foundation for distribution at protest sites nationwide, and Red Wing has since collaborated with other artists and designers in a poster printing workshop at Standing Rock to create additional graphic interventions for the grassroots movement.

Red Wing earned her BFA in new media arts and interactive design from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 2013, and received a Master’s of graphic design from North Carolina State University this past May. She advocates for native designers to practice visual sovereignty in their work by using the visual language that is unique to their specific cultural heritage.

Too often indigenous symbols and designs become homogenized into a “Pan-Indian” motif that Red Wing says only further perpetuates Native American stereotypes.

“As a Lakota, I do not identify with a Navajo design. A Seminole will not identify with a Lakota design. It seems like common sense, but there are still cases today where designers use any tribe’s imagery just to show that something is ‘Native American.’” Her graduate thesis, Learning the Traditional Lakota Visual Language Through Shape Play, serves as a guide for how Native American designers can research their own traditional visual languages and apply them to their contemporary practices.

Red Wing feels that both her experience in undergrad and graduate school was not comprehensive enough in terms of including indigenous design into the curriculum, and both institutions still taught from a colonized perspective. While NCSU offered more in the way of design theory, IAIA was a vocationally based program of study, and the design theory and history that was provided was predominantly Eurocentric, even though IAIA is a school founded specifically for native students.

Red Wing admitted she’s frustrated by the lack of scholarly design opportunities available through tribal colleges. Of the 30 Native American schools in the U.S., only three offer graphic design programs, none of which award degrees beyond an Associate’s. Red Wing says, “Our education is pushed to keep students in the fields of education, health, and liberal studies. That means, design is not taught in our tribal colleges.”

“We need more graphic designers in tribal communities. There are over 500 tribes, but one tribal person cannot teach design to 500 tribes.”

“This is where our fight for sovereignty comes in. Native American students are colonized to think that they are artists, and not designers. The way they practice is always ‘craft.’ I put my efforts into getting Native American students away from that thinking when it comes to designing artifacts.”

Neebin Southall received her education at Oregon State University, and while the program focused on conceptualization and critical thinking, the curriculum still operated from a colonized perspective. Southall says, “Most educators inherit this situation with absolutely no ill intent, but the truth is, the situation is historically rooted in some very ugly things: white supremacism, genocide, displacement, cultural suppression, and forced assimilation. It’s important to acknowledge this truth and make changes where we can.”

As a personal project, Southall has compiled a database of Native American graphic designers as a means of promoting the work of contemporary designers within her community and informing the public about the rich visual history of native design. One notable historic figure listed was Angel DeCora (1871-1919), a prominent native female designer from the Thunderbird clan, who “advocated for the intrinsic value and legitimacy of Native arts in speaking to the broader society.”

Because colonization has affected indigenous cultures from all over the world, our editorial team wanted to know how design programs outside of North America are addressing the need for respectful design. Prior to her position at OCAD, Dori Tunstall worked in Melbourne at Swinburne University, where together with Dr. Norman Sheehan, a man of Aboriginal and indigenous heritage, she developed the Master’s program in design specifically based on Australian indigenous principles. Elsewhere in Australia, graphic designer and educator Dr. Russell Kennedy is working with Dr. Meghan Kelly to form The Australian Indigenous Design Charter on Communication Design.

In Zimbabwe, designer and educator Saki Mafundikwa’s research on Afrikan alphabets has helped audiences rediscover the visual language of Afrikan iconography that was suppressed through colonialism. Piers Carey, professor at Durban University in South Africa, advocates for indigenous African design systems to be taught in the classroom. Unfortunately Carey has seen little interest from the country’s design schools in developing anything that is not “International” in terms of aesthetics, and feels that the best way forward in developing a respectful design curriculum would be a postcolonial approach. He says they must “find routes through our neo-colonial present to acknowledge and incorporate all the traditions that exist in the country. These routes will be varied and full of pitfalls, but decolonized cultures of design will develop eventually, simply because the country and the continent are too varied for the present globalized monolith to be sustainable.”

Teal Triggs, design historian and professor at London’s Royal College of Art, has a unique perspective in that she was raised and educated in the U.S. but works in the UK and has received degrees from both countries. She says when she was a student during the 1980s and ’90s, “The main difference was that the U.S. experience was much more ‘taught’ and in discrete units of study, whereas in the UK it was still more about an overarching program through which a thread of critical discourse was running.”

She sites a few key figures in the U.S. and UK who have made an impact in developing graphic design curricula that not only “decolonizes” but “demystifies” the complexity of these … [more]
design  education  designeducation  decolonization  2017  margaretandersen  diversity  socialjustice  indigenization  appropriation  culture  accountability  ethics  ocad  inclusion  inclusivity  aiga  us  aisharichards  elizabethresnick  lucilletenazas  tealtriggs  sakimafundikwa  dorituntall  meghankelly  russellkennedy  normansheehan  australia  canada  angeladecora  neebinsouthall  colonization  colonialism  sadieredwing  neebinnaukzhiksouthall 
january 2017 by robertogreco
The Spiritual Crisis of the Modern Economy - The Atlantic
"The main source of meaning in American life is a meritocratic competition that makes those who struggle feel inferior."



"What is happening to America’s white working class?

The group’s important, and perhaps decisive, role in this year’s presidential election sparked a slew of commentary focused on, on the one hand, its nativism, racism, and sexism, and, on the other, its various economic woes. While there are no simple explanations for the desperation and anger visible in many predominantly white working-class communities, perhaps the most astute and original diagnosis came from the rabbi and activist Michael Lerner, who, in assessing Donald Trump’s victory, looked from a broader vantage point than most. Underneath the populist ire, he wrote, was a suffering “rooted in the hidden injuries of class and in the spiritual crisis that the global competitive marketplace generates.”

That cuts right to it. The modern economy privileges the well-educated and highly-skilled, while giving them an excuse to denigrate the people at the bottom (both white and nonwhite) as lazy, untalented, uneducated, and unsophisticated. In a society focused on meritocratic, materialistic success, many well-off Americans from across the political spectrum scorn the white working class in particular for holding onto religious superstitions and politically incorrect views, and pity them for working lousy jobs at dollar stores and fast-food restaurants that the better-off rarely set foot in. And when other sources of meaning are hard to come by, those who struggle in the modern economy can lose their sense of self-worth.

This system of categorizing Americans—the logical extension of life in what can be called an extreme meritocracy—can be pernicious: The culture holds up those who succeed as examples, however anecdotal, that everyone can make it in America. Meanwhile, those who fail attract disdain and indifference from the better-off, their low status all the more painful because it is regarded as deserved. As research has shown, well-educated white-collar workers also sink into despair if they cannot find a new job, but among the working class, the shame of low status afflicts not just the unemployed, but also the underemployed. Their days are no longer filled with the dignified, if exhausting, work of making real things. Rather, the economy requires—as a white former factory worker I talked to described it—“throwing on a goofy hat,” dealing with surly customers who are themselves just scraping by, and enduring a precarious working life of arbitrary rules and dead-end prospects.

And the work people do (or don’t do) affects their self-esteem. When I was talking to laid-off autoworkers in Michigan for my book about long-term unemployment, I met a black man in Detroit who told me his job at the plant had helped heal a wound—one going back to his parents’ choice, when he was a baby, to abandon him. (As is standard in sociological research, my interviewees were promised confidentiality.) “My job was like my mother and father to me,” he said. “It’s all I had, you know?” Then the plant shut down. Now in his 50s, he was back on the job market, scrambling for one of the few good jobs left for someone without a college degree. In his moments of weakness, he berated himself. He should have prepared more. He should have gotten an education. “It’s all my fault,” he said—the company was just doing what made business sense.

For less educated workers (of all races) who have struggled for months or years to get another job, failure is a source of deep shame and a reason for self-blame. Without the right markers of merit—a diploma, marketable skills, a good job—they are “scrubs” who don’t deserve romantic partners, “takers” living parasitically off the government, “losers” who won’t amount to anything. Even those who consider themselves lucky to have jobs can feel a sense of despair, seeing how poorly they stand relative to others, or how much their communities have unraveled, or how dim their children’s future seems to be: Research shows that people judge how well they’re doing through constant comparisons, and by these personal metrics they are hurting, whatever the national unemployment rate may be.

When faced with these circumstances, members of the working class often turn inward. I witnessed this coping mechanism among the workers I got to know in Michigan. One of them, a white former autoworker, lost her home and had to move to a crime-infested neighborhood, where she had a front-row view of the nightly drug deals and fistfights. “I just am not used to that anymore,” said the woman, who grew up in poverty. “I want out of here so bad.” Interestingly, she dismissed any sort of collective solution to the economic misery that she and others like her now confront. For instance, she had no kind words to say about the union at her old plant, which she blamed for protecting lousy workers. She was also outraged by what she called the “black favoritism” at her Detroit plant, whose union leadership included many African Americans.

This go-it-alone mentality works against the ways that, historically, workers have improved their lot. It encourages workers to see unions and government as flawed institutions that coddle the undeserving, rather than as useful, if imperfect, means of raising the relative prospects of all workers. It also makes it more likely that white workers will direct their frustration toward racial and ethnic minorities, economic scapegoats who are dismissed as freeloaders unworthy of help—in a recent survey, 64 percent of Trump voters (not all of whom, of course, are part of the white working class) agreed that “average Americans” had gotten less than they deserved, but this figure dropped to 12 percent when that phrase was replaced with “blacks.” (Among Clinton voters, the figure stayed steady at 57 percent for both phrases.) This is one reason that enacting good policies is, while important, not enough to address economic inequality. What’s needed as well is a broader revision of a culture that makes those who struggle feel like losers.

One explanation for why so many come to that conclusion in the first place has to do with the widening of the gulf between America’s coasts and the region in between them. Cities that can entice well-educated professionals are booming, even as “flyover” communities have largely seen good-paying factory work automated or shipped overseas, replaced to a large extent with insecure jobs: Walmart greeters, independent-contractor truck drivers, and the like. It is easy to see why white voters from hard-hit rural areas and hollowed-out industrial towns have turned away from a Democratic Party that has offered them little in the way of hope and inspiration and much in the way of disdain and blame.

It should here be emphasized that misogyny, racism, and xenophobia played a major role in the election, helping whip up more support for Trump—as well as suppress support for Clinton—among the white working class. To be sure, those traits are well represented among other groups, however savvier they are about not admitting it to journalists and pollsters (or to themselves). But the white working class that emerged in the 19th century—stitched together from long-combative European ethnic groups—strived to set themselves apart from African Americans, Chinese, and other vilified “indispensable enemies,” and build, by contrast (at least in their view), a sense of workingman pride. Even if it’s unfair to wholly dismiss the white working class’s cultural politics as reactionary and bigoted, this last election was a reminder that white male resentment of “nasty” women and “uppity” racial and other minorities remains strong.

That said, many Americans with more stable, better-paid jobs have blind spots of their own. For all of their professed open-mindedness in other areas, millions of the well-educated and well-off who live in or near big cities tend to endorse the notion, explicitly or implicitly, that education determines a person’s value. More so than in other rich nations, like Germany and Japan, which have prioritized vocational training to a greater degree, a college degree has become the true mark of individual success in America—the sort of white-picket-fence fantasy that drives people well into their elder years to head back to school. But such a fervent belief in the transformative power of education also implies that a lack of it amounts to personal failure—being a “stupid” person, as one of the white Michigan workers I talked to put it. In today’s labor market, it is no longer enough to work hard, another worker, who was black, told me: “It used to be you come up and say, ‘Okay, I’ve got a strong back,’ and all that,” but nowadays a “strong back don’t mean shit. You gotta have dedication and you’ve gotta have some kind of smartness, or something.”



"One possible answer to the question Harrington posed about how to ease his own generation’s populist rage is the notion of grace—a stance that puts forward values that go beyond the “negatives” of the narrow secular creed and connect with individuals of diverse political viewpoints, including those hungry for more in the way of meaning than the meritocratic race affords. It moves people past the hectoring that so alienates the white working class—and, to be sure, other groups as well—who would otherwise benefit from policies that favor greater equality and opportunity.

The concept of grace comes from the Christian teaching that everyone, not just the deserving, is saved by God’s grace. Grace in the broader sense that I (an agnostic) am using, however, can be both secular and religious. In the simplest terms, it is about refusing to divide the world into camps of deserving and undeserving, as those on both the right and left are wont to do. It rejects an … [more]
victortanchen  meritocracy  2016  election  donaldtrump  capitalism  self-esteem  labor  work  culture  society  economics  losers  class  elitism  workingclass  hierarchy  richardsennett  jonathancobb  inequality  education  politics  competition  unions  status  grace  wealth  populism 
january 2017 by robertogreco
A Smuggling Operation: John Berger’s Theory of Art - Los Angeles Review of Books
"EARLY IN HIS CAREER, John Berger’s weekly art criticism for the New Statesman provoked outraged letters and public condemnation. Once, the British Council issued a formal apology to Henry Moore because Berger had suggested his latest work showed a decline. Nor was the hostility limited to such comic passive-aggression. Berger’s politics were deemed so objectionable that his publisher was compelled to withdraw his first novel, A Painter of Our Time (1958), from circulation.

At 90, Berger is harvesting a sudden flowering of praise. It is well deserved. For more than half a century, he has been our greatest art critic — as well as a superior novelist, a poet, and the star and screenwriter of one of the best art documentaries ever made, Ways of Seeing. Most of the writers currently rushing to canonize him, however, avoid dwelling on the heart of Berger’s point of view — his Marxism. No doubt avoiding this disfavored topic makes eulogy easier, but it reminds me of something Berger wrote about Frederick Antal: “the importance of his Marxism tends to be underestimated. In a curious way this is probably done out of respect for him: as though to say ‘He was brilliant despite that — so let’s charitably forget it.’ Yet, in fact, to do this is to deny all that Antal was.” To make such a denial about Berger should no longer be possible after the publication of Landscapes: John Berger on Art.

Landscapes and its companion volume, Portraits: John Berger on Artists (Verso, 2015), are the best summation to date of Berger’s career as a critic. Both volumes were edited by Tom Overton. In Portraits, Overton made selections from decades of essays on the whole historical gamut of art, from the prehistoric cave paintings of Lascaux to the work of 33-year-old Randa Mdah, and organized them chronologically into a history and appraisal of the art of painting. To read it was to be reminded of Berger’s unique virtues: the clarity of his writing, the historical and technical erudition of his insight, and above all his unique focus on each artist’s way of looking. What Landscapes in turn makes clear, through its assemblage of more programmatic pieces — book reviews, manifestos, autobiography — is that Berger is a rigorous thinker with a theory of art. That theory evolved considerably between the 1950s and the 2010s. Yet two threads hold it together with the tenacity of spider silk: a critique of the political economy of art and a sophisticated account of its human value, each rooted in a committed but elastic Marxism.

A Marxist art criticism of any real subtlety has to be elastic, because it must deal with a problem Marx himself diagnosed but failed to solve. Berger puts it like this:
A question which Marx posed but could not answer: If art in the last analysis is a superstructure of an economic base, why does its power to move us endure long after the base has been transformed? Why, asked Marx, do we still look towards Greek art as an ideal? He began to answer the question […] and then broke off the manuscript and was far too occupied ever to return to the question.

Berger takes up the thread where Marx broke off. He is not, of course, the first Marxist to address the question of art, and he is familiar with most of those who tried before him, sorting through and furthering their legacy.

The most famous of Berger’s influences, Walter Benjamin, wrote the essay “Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” from which came most of the ideas in Berger’s documentary, Ways of Seeing. But Landscapes reveals that his most important influence as a practicing art critic was Max Raphael.

Raphael, an undeservedly obscure theorist, located the value of art in the activity of the artist. According to him, an artist performs two operations. On the one hand, the artist turns raw material into artistic material by shaping it to represent an idea or an object; this is true both of Michelangelo shaping a block of marble into David and of Jackson Pollock embodying the rhythms of jazz in drip paintings. On the other, the artist turns his perception into something external and objective, a representation. The work of art is the result of these two transformations, of raw stuff and of subjective perception into an art object. For Raphael, the point of art is these two transformations: they are the artist’s way of “undoing the world of things” and constructing “the world of values.”

So Raphael’s answer to Marx’s problem — why is art enduringly moving even though it merely reflects its social context? — is to say that art doesn’t merely reflect its social context. It does reflect it, because the artist’s material, style, the things they want to represent, even the way they see, are historically conditioned; but it doesn’t merely reflect it, because the transformed material speaks of something deeper and more voluntary. It speaks of humanity’s ability to make its own world, to become the subject and not merely the victim of history. “The function of the work of art,” Berger sums up Raphael, “is to lead us from the work to the process of creation which it contains.”

Anyone familiar with Berger’s own writing will sit up with a shock of recognition. Here is a theory of art directly correlated to his practice of criticism. Berger takes art out of the sanitizing temples where we store it and drops it firmly back onto the easel, in a messy studio, where a sweaty artist bites her lip and stores her way of looking in an object. Over and over again, he asks us to imagine the artist at work. Many have attributed this to his own training as a painter, which might have inspired his fascination with technique, as I, an amateur pianist, am fascinated by the technique of my favorite recording artists. But I think his admiring discussion of Raphael suggests a much deeper reason. If Berger believes that the most important meaning of art is what it shows us of our ability to create the world we want, it turns out that his criticism is connected to his Marxism much more fundamentally than through the borrowing of a few insights from Walter Benjamin.

For Berger, art criticism is a revolutionary practice. It prepares the ground for a new society. In Landscapes, Overton includes a translation by Berger and Anya Rostock of a poem by Bertolt Brecht. It includes this passage:
Yet how to begin? How to show
The living together of men
That it may be understood
And become a world that can be mastered?
How to reveal not only yourselves and others
Floundering in the net
But also make clear how the net of fate
Is knotted and cast,
Cast and knotted by men?
[…] only he who knows that the fate of man is man
Can see his fellow men keenly with accuracy.

How to begin? Berger answers: In art. There we find proof and prophecy of a different world. In another essay, he writes:
We can no longer “use” most paintings today as they were intended to be used: for religious worship, for celebrating the wealth of the wealthy, for immediate political enlightenment, for proving the romantic sublime, and so on. Nevertheless, painting is especially well suited to developing the very faculty of understanding which has rendered its earlier uses obsolete: that is to say, to developing our historical and evolutionary self-consciousness.

This is the promise, the positive function of art. By looking at it, we are, in effect, looking through an artist’s eyes, entering into a concretized instance of their gaze. We are looking at a looking. And from within an artist’s looking, we learn about the capacities of our kind and the possibilities of our future: “A classical Greek sculpture increases our awareness of our own potential physical dignity; a Rembrandt of our potential moral courage; a Matisse of our potential sensual awareness.”

At the same time, Berger is of the opinion that the modern history of art is a history of failure. He won’t compromise on this point, and it is undoubtedly the reason for the stiff resistance that he has often met.

In modern times, Berger believes, the art world has hosted a titanic battle between two conceptions of art. One conception declares that art is valuable because it bodies forth the vision of an artist; it is a good in itself just to the degree that it succeeds at this task. This is Berger’s conception, and it is large enough to embrace all the varying and contradictory proclamations and provocations of the successive factions of modern art. The other conception declares that art is valuable because it is expensive — that, fundamentally, art is property:
Since 1848 every artist unready to be a mere paid entertainer has tried to resist the bourgeoisation of his finished work, the transformation of the spiritual value of his work into property value. This regardless of his political opinions as such. […] What Constructivism, Dadaism, Surrealism, and so on, all shared was their opposition to art-as-property and art-as-a-cultural-alibi-for-existing-society. We know the extremes to which they went […] and we see that their resistance was […] ineffective.

In other words, artists, like all other workers, are victims of a capitalism that alienates them from the fruit of their labor. Berger has nothing but scorn for the commercialization of art: “If you could fuck works of art as well as buy them,” he writes, dealers “would be pimps: but, if that were the case, one might assume a kind of love; as it is they dream of money and honour.” Everything about the modern art world is constructed on the assumption that art is precious in proportion to its price. Even among those who profess a genuine love of art, that passion is often tainted by its ideological function:
A love of art has been a useful concept to the European ruling classes for over a century and a half. The love was said to be their own. With it they could claim kinship with the civilisations of … [more]
johnberger  2017  robertminto  marxism  art  artists  artcriticism  criticism  henrymoore  politics  waysofseeing  frederickantal  tomoverton  economics  walterbenjamin  raphael  jacksonpollock  michelangelo  elitism  anyarostock  bertoltbrecht  process  craftsmanship  arthistory  resistance  constuctivism  dadaism  surrealism  property  society  culture  ownership  beauty  aesthetics  museums  artappreciation  creativity  creation  praxis  canon  objects  mystique  products  action  achievement  making  wealth  ideology  consumerism  consumption 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Why Look at Animals? by John Berger | Book review | Books | The Guardian
"Part of Penguin's Great Ideas series, this slim book brings together seven of John Berger's essays from 1971-2001, a poem, a drawing and a new story. Apart from the final piece - a moving memoir on the death of Austrian intellectual Ernst Fischer - the theme is the marginalisation of animals. The title essay (1977) explores the ancient relationship between animals and humankind: an "unspeaking companionship". But today the caged creatures in zoos have become "the living monument to their own disappearance" from culture. In all these pieces, what concerns Berger is the loss of a meaningful connection to nature, a connection that can now only be rediscovered through the experience of beauty: "the aesthetic moment offers hope." Berger's writing is wonderfully physical, with a powerful sense of how things look, smell, feel. At his best he shows how everyday experiences - a swallow straying into a room, the performances of primates in a zoo, a peasant carving - hold the aesthetic key to unlock the true order of things."
pdsmith  johnberger  2009  animals  looking  seeing  noticing  multispecies  culture  companionship  humans  marginalization  ernstfischer  humankind  zoos  nature  beauty  aesthetics  hope  everyday 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Everyday Media Culture in Africa: Audiences and Users (Hardback) - Routledge
"African audiences and users are rapidly gaining in importance and increasingly targeted by global media companies, social media platforms and mobile phone operators. This is the first edited volume that addresses the everyday lived experiences of Africans in their interaction with different kinds of media: old and new, state and private, elite and popular, global and national, material and virtual. So far, the bulk of academic research on media and communication in Africa has studied media through the lens of media-state relations, thereby adopting liberal democracy as the normative ideal and examining the potential contribution of African media to development and democratization. Focusing instead on everyday media culture in a range of African countries, this volume contributes to the broader project of provincializing and decolonizing audience and internet studies."



"Table of Contents

Foreword
Paddy Scannell

1. Decolonizing and provincializing audience and internet studies: contextual approaches from African vantage points
Wendy Willems and Winston Mano

2. Media culture in Africa? A practice-ethnographic approach
Jo Helle Valle

3. ‘The African listener‘: state-controlled radio, subjectivity, and agency in colonial and post-colonial Zambia
Robert Heinze

4. Popular engagement with tabloid TV: a Zambian case study
Herman Wasserman and Loisa Mbatha

5. ‘Our own WikiLeaks’: popularity, moral panic and tabloid journalism in Zimbabwe
Admire Mare

6. Audience perceptions of radio stations and journalists in the Great Lakes region
Marie-Soleil Frère

7. Audience participation and BBC’s digital quest in Nigeria
Abdullahi Tasiu Abubakar

8. ‘Radio locked on @Citi973’: Twitter use by FM radio listeners in Ghana
Seyram Avle

9. Mixing with MXit when you're ‘mix’: mobile phones and identity in a small South African town
Alette Schoon and Larry Strelitz

10. Brokers of belonging: elders and intermediaries in Kinshasa’s mobile phone culture
Katrien Pype

11. Agency behind the veil: gender, digital media and being ‘ninja’ in Zanzibar
Thembi Mutch"
africa  media  books  everyday  culture  communication  2017  wendywillems  winstonmano  thembimutch  katrienpype  aletteschoon  larrystrelitz  seyramavle  marie-soleilfrère  abdullahitasiuabubakar  admiremare  hermanwasserman  loisambatha  robertheinze  johellevalle  paddyscannell  decolonization  audiences  radio  zambia  zimbabwe  nigeria  uganda  rwanda  ghana  southafrica  congo  drg  kinshasa  zanzibar  digital  twitter  bbc 
december 2016 by robertogreco
How America's 'Culture of Hustling' Is Dark and Empty - The Atlantic
"Q: You write about the "unnecessary," "wasteful," and "stupid" routines, obsessions, and goals that you once pursued and that most of American culture preaches as the means of accessing the good life—careers, professional ambition, the drive for prestige, etc. You have left that behind for a peaceful "retirement" in Mexico, but during your retirement, you've written five books. How do you differentiate between pointless hustling and meaningful work? You write that more people should "let the universe do its thing." How do we do that and strive for work that gives our lives a sense of purpose and source of meaning? 

A: The tipoff for me is somatic. Whenever a project comes to me, one that is right, that is genuine, I feel a kind of “shiver” in my body, and that tells me that it corresponds to something very deep in me, and that I need to pursue it. That has been my guide with literally every book I wrote. Trusting this kind of visceral reaction means that you are willing to let life “come and get you.” It means who you are is defined from the inside, not the outside. In terms of what’s really important, we don’t have much choice, and that’s as it should be. The decision is made by a larger energy or unconscious process, and when it’s right, you know it.

Most Americans have a dull sense that their lives are fundamentally “off”—because for the most part, they are. They hate their lives, but to get through the day, besides taking Prozac and consulting their cell phone every two minutes, they talk themselves into believing that they want to be doing what they are doing. This is probably the major source of illness in our culture, whether physical or mental.

In the film Definitely, Maybe, Ryan Reynolds works for an ad agency and says to himself at one point that he never imagined he’d be spending his days trying to convince people to buy Cap’n Crunch for their kids instead of Fruit Loops. As far as striving goes, Goethe wrote: “Man errs as long as he strives.” Sit still, meditate, just let the answer arise from the body. (It may take a while.)

Q: So much of American culture is results obsessed. You write in your book about appreciating pleasures as they come, whether they are sexual, intellectual, or emotional. Do you think much of happiness is about learning to appreciate pleasure in the moment and not attaching it some tangibly measurable result?

A: It took me a long time to understand that I, or, my ego, had no idea what was best for me. Some part of happiness undoubtedly derives from a Zen enjoyment of whatever is in front of you, but a big part of it is knowing who you are and being that person. This is ontological knowing, and it’s very different from intellectual knowing.

Q: Your message of detachment from materially measurable pursuits and your encouragement of leisure, creativity, and relaxed living is un-American (I mean this as a compliment). Why is American culture so addicted to speed, movement, action, and "progress"?

A: This is, in some ways, the subject of my book Why America Failed. America is essentially about hustling, and that goes back more than 400 years. It’s practically genetic, in the U.S., by now; the programming is so deep, and so much out of conscious awareness, that very few Americans can break free of it. They’re really sleepwalking through life, living out a narrative that is not of their own making, while thinking they are in the driver’s seat.

It’s also especially hard to break free of that mesmerization when everyone else is similarly hypnotized. Groupthink is enormously powerful. Even if it occurs to you to stop following the herd, it seems crazy or terrifying to attempt it. This is Sartre’s “bad faith,” the phenomenon whereby a human being adopts false values because of social pressure, and is thus living a charade, an inauthentic life. It’s also what happens to Ivan Illych in the Tolstoy story, where Ivan is dying, and reviews his life during his last three days, and concludes that it was all a waste, because he lived only for social approval."

[See also: http://tumblr.austinkleon.com/post/154822488046 ]
culture  hustling  via:austinkleon  morrisberman  work  hustle  society  productivity  ambition  careers  prestige  motivation  us  howwework  slow  retirement  2013  davidmasciotra  results  stress  pleasure  leisurearts  artleisure  knowing  creativity  life  living  consumption  materialism  authenticity  socialpressure  meaning  meaningmaking 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Austin Kleon — Morris Berman, Why America Failed: The Roots of...
"Picked this up off a tip from @mattthomas​ — it’s a “post-mortem” of our nation, the third in a trilogy about the Decline of the American Empire (part one is The Twilight of American Culture, which I’m reading now, and part two is Dark Ages America). It’s a bleak portrait, one which I’m not sure a lot of people want to read about around the holidays, but for some perverse reason, I found it very enjoyable and oddly comforting — in the first book, Berman says “I’ll do my best not to entertain you,” but he fails.

The big idea here is that the dominate mode of America is a kind of “technohustling”—America is a “hustling” culture (“American English contains more than two hundred nouns and verbs referring to a swindle”) that believes in endless technological progress (“technology is not neutral”) and it’s left us with a hollowed-out nation —economically, spiritually, emotionally — in which a few have much and many have very little.

Berman points to a long “anti-hustler” tradition of people such as the Transcendentalists, Herman Melville (he sees Moby-Dick as maybe the greatest book about America), and Lewis Mumford, that culminates with Jimmy Carter’s “Crisis of Confidence” speech he delivered in 1979, which Berman regards as the tradition’s “last stand.” Here’s Carter:
In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities, and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns. But we’ve discovered that owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning. We’ve learned that piling up material goods cannot fill the emptiness of lives which have no confidence or purpose.

Berman sees very little that the individual can do to escape the “American Nightmare,” other than flee (he went to Mexico) or pursue what he calls the “monastic option” (which he explores in detail in the first book): “resisting the dominant culture and trying to do something meaningful with your life as opposed to living the mass dream.”

Made up a good reading list of books I’ve wanted to check out for a while:

• Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America
• A General Theory of Love
• Barbara Ehrenreich, Bright-sided: How Positive Thinking Is Undermining America
• E.F. Schumacher, Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered
• Lewis Mumford, Technics and Civilization"

[See also: "How America's 'Culture of Hustling' Is Dark and Empty: Results-obsessed perspectives overlook meaning — and leave little room for creativity, pleasure, or accepting the importance of sadness."
https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/08/how-americas-culture-of-hustling-is-dark-and-empty/278601/ ]
morrisberman  consumerism  jimmycarter  austinkleon  2016  2014  toread  hustle  hustling  hermanmelville  moby-dick  transcendentalism  us  culture  society  self-indulgence  consumption  materialism  technohustling  monasticism  cv  efschumacher  leismumford  barbaraehrenreich  toqueville  meaning  meaningmaking  sadness  emptiness  results  creativity  pleasure  leisurearts  artleisure 
december 2016 by robertogreco
What the West Can Learn From Japan About the Cultural Value of Work - The New York Times
"A few weeks ago, in a Kyoto tempura bar, I watched a lone chef, a man in late middle age, cooking behind a counter for his 11 customers. The set menu had 15 items on it. That meant that at any given moment, he was keeping track of 165 pieces of food, each subject to slightly different timing and technique. He wrote nothing down and expended no apparent effort. It was a demonstration of total mastery. This didn’t look so much like a job as a life: His work was his whole being.

That’s a thing you notice in Japan, the deep personal investment people make in their work. The word shokunin, which has no direct translation, sums it up: It means something like “master or mastery of one’s profession,” and it captures the way Japanese workers spend every day trying to be better at what they do.

Shokunin culture can have a side that, to those of us raised on a more brutally capitalistic worldview, verges on the ridiculous. Outside the Sanjusangendo temple in Kyoto, I saw a man standing with a yellow glow stick, pointing pedestrians toward the sidewalk instead of to the parking lot nearby. Presumably, if a vehicle had come, he would have pointed it toward the lot. “That guy is basically a sign,” my son said. He was right — and this was a job you often see in Japan, often in relation to vehicular access: a person performing a job that in any other developed society is either automated away or ignored.

On another occasion, while waiting at a bus stop in the seaside city of Kobe, I found myself watching a group of five men who were drilling a hole. Or rather, one of them was; the other four were watching him. For the whole 30 minutes, that’s all they did. But they didn’t do it reluctantly, or while checking their smartphones, or gossiping, or anything. It was like a demonstration: “All other techniques for watching a guy dig a hole are incorrect. This is how you watch a guy digging a hole.”

“People whose jobs involve literally doing nothing,” an American teacher said to me after I got off the bus and described this scene. At the time, though, I was left thinking something different: that what I saw were people who had a strong feeling that their work was meaningful. For these workers, the value they attached to work wasn’t simply its economic value to them. A train conductor bows on entering and exiting a train compartment; a department-store worker does the same thing coming or going from a shop floor, whether observed or not, whether the store is heavingly busy or almost deserted. It’s clear that there are deep cultural differences at work here, not all of them benign; the reason Japanese has a word for “death from overwork” is because it needs one. You could even argue that work has too much meaning, is too freighted with consequences for individual identity, in Japan.

Among economists, Japan is a byword, a punch line, a horror story. The boom of the late ’80s and early ’90s — during which it became popular to imagine a Japan-dominated economic future, the subject of Michael Crichton’s thriller “Rising Sun,” for instance — was followed by a spectacular stock-market crash. The Nikkei share index hit a high of 38,957 on Dec. 29, 1989. Over the next two decades, it fell 82 percent. Twenty-seven years later, it is still only at less than half that 1989 value. Property values crashed along with share prices, which turned large parts of the financial system into zombie banks — meaning banks that hold so many bad assets that they are essentially broke, which means they can’t lend money and therefore cease to fulfill one of a bank’s central roles in the modern economy, which is to help keep the flow of credit moving.

The Japanese economy ground to a halt. Inflation slowed, stalled and turned to outright deflation. Add Japan’s aging and shrinking population, contracting G.D.P. and apparently unreformable politics, and you have a picture of perfect economic gloom.

It doesn’t feel like that when you visit, though. The anger apparent in so much of the developed world simply isn’t visible in Japan. A student of the culture would tell you that public displays of anger are frowned on in Japan; a demographer would point to the difficult prospects faced by young Japanese, paying for an older generation’s lavish health care and benefits that they are unlikely ever to enjoy themselves. The growth numbers would seem to imply a story about stagnation. But unemployment is almost nonexistent — at 3 percent, it’s among the lowest in the developed world. The aging of the society is visible, but so is the distinctive liveliness of the various youth cultures. I’ve been to plenty of stagnant places, and lived in one or two as well, and contemporary Japan isn’t one of them.

Why? A big part of the answer, I think, lies in the distinctive Japanese attitude toward work — or more specific, toward meaning in work.

Work is good, but meaningful work is better. I wonder whether our shiny new Western world of work — post-manufacturing, un-unionized, gig-based, insecure — offers as much sense of meaning as work once did, or as it still seems to in Japan. In Derek Walcott’s epic poem “Omeros,” a wide-ranging reimagining and mash-up of Homer’s Aegean and the contemporary Caribbean, he writes admiringly and respectfully of his protagonist, Achille, a St. Lucian fisherman. Achille is a man “who never ascended in an elevator,/who had no passport, since the horizon needs none,/never begged nor borrowed, was nobody’s waiter.” Near the end of Walcott’s long, meditative, elusive poem, that line gave me a jolt. What’s so bad about waiting tables? Is there really something so lessening, something analogous to begging or borrowing, about being a waiter?

The answer to that question for lots of people is yes. This isn’t a general human truth about workers at all times and in all cultures, because there are places where waiting and where service in general are deeply respected jobs. But it’s apparent that the new service work has many people doing things that aren’t congruent with their sense of their identity. A life is the story of a life, and that story, for many, has become one of decline and loss, of reduction in self-esteem. The tension in status between different types of work is one theme of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s “My Struggle” — indeed, that is essentially what his struggle is, the gap between the narrator’s sense of what he should be doing, as a writer, and what he actually does all day, as a homemaker: “Clean floors, wash clothes, make dinner, wash up, go shopping, play with the children in the play areas, bring them home, undress them, bathe them, look after them until it is bedtime, tuck them in, hang some clothes to dry, fold others, and put them away, tidy up, wipe tables, chairs and cupboards.”"
ork  labor  mearning  japan  culture  economics  2016  johnlancaster  purpose  aging  shokunin  manufacturing  anger  resentment  derekwalkcott  service 
december 2016 by robertogreco
on material entanglements: an interview with morehshin allahyari : Open Space
"taking a closer look into her website, i found the 3d additivist manifesto that she wrote in collaboration with daniel rourke. the manifesto combines a mordant sense of humor with a calculated resignation to our dependence on fossil fuel materials, in this case the plastic used in 3d printing. the text immediately struck a chord with me: “its potential belies the complications of its history: that matter is the sum and prolongation of our ancestry; that creativity is brutal, sensual, rude, coarse, and cruel. we declare that the world’s splendour has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of crap, kipple and detritus. a planet crystallized with great plastic tendrils like serpents with pixelated breath.” this fatalism towards the material is posited as a way to attempt subversion towards the possibility of liberation. embracing it means that you take the glitches that will inevitably happen and that may eventually reveal within them an opportunity to corrupt the material towards a new reality.

i noticed in allahyari’s practice the willingness to seize on existing flaws in the forms and systems she chooses, pushing them towards alternative resolutions. she creates surrogate existences for her sources and materials, questioning their original and stagnant origins. humor and failure are also deployed as strategies and enablers.

we recently met to talk in more depth about her background, practice, and ongoing projects."



"Allahyari: Yeah. I have one of those personalities that is always being a rebel and not listening. I always felt this not belonging thing in a very different way. I wanted to get out. I didn’t want to live there. Of course, for also so many other reasons, because I just didn’t feel I would have the future I wanted in Iran. As a woman, it’s another whole process.

The amount of misogynistic and cultural taboos and shit around you is another thing that won’t make it easy for you to work. There are more Iranian women in universities than men. And women are very educated and they all have jobs. But at the same time, on a daily basis, you just constantly deal with sexism and sexual harassment and street harassment, and the glass ceiling is much more real. You can only move to a certain level of position. So yeah, I wanted to leave because I didn’t feel like I could belong in that society and it was suffering, living there.

The not belonging is a very different thing in the US, because then you end up constantly explaining yourself and explaining your life to people, and your daily life experience. And people don’t do that. People just do this out of public curiosity just on a daily basis, asking about your life and why did you move and how did you move and who are your parents, etc. All of these daily experiences makes this othering more real in your life. I don’t think that’s ever going to change. As long as I really have an accent and people ask where you’re from and I say, “Iran,” that will always be the case, right? You become this other because people are curious. People want to have associations about that.

I also would say that if anything, if I was going to have to go and choose countries to move to, the United States would still be my most preferable place to move to, because I think xenophobia in Europe is much more serious, and immigration…

I know a lot of friends from Iran who’ve moved to Sweden or France or, I don’t know, and you can never become a part of it. Living in the US, 98% of my friends are Americans. They’re my friends and I love them and they love me and we hang out all the time. They never make me feel like you’re just this other: “oh, you can’t be part of our community because you’re not American.”

Being American doesn’t [come with] the same resignation as being French or being Dutch, being British. All these have a really big thing, in terms of nationality, to them. Being American, unless you’re from Texas or whatever, it doesn’t really have that kind of thing, because of the history and background and…"



"Allahyari: Exactly. After I finished the recreation of these 12 artifacts that were destroyed by ISIS, I released a folder on Rhizome as part of their Download series, which contains all the information that I had gathered during the research process about the artifacts, their history, the process of research, images, and the obj/sti files.

This idea of releasing this information online became really important for me because in the last one year, with all this destruction, as ISIS has been going to Iraq and Syria and destroying these artifacts, there has been a lot of response from a lot of tech companies and Western archaeological institutions, [wanting] to recreate these artifacts. This has become a highly fashionable thing. When I started to work on my Material Speculation project I was interested in using 3-D printing as this poetic, metaphoric tool, but also a practical activism tool to recreate these artifacts. I’ve been approaching it, of course, as an artist, as this conceptual work. My project got a lot of attention and press. I would get all these emails from different — especially based in San Francisco — tech companies and different places, asking, “Do you want to do a life size version of this project? Or do you want to collaborate with us? We have a digital library.”

One thing that I started to think about a lot — and this is me now looking back and rebuilding and interrupting myself — was the fact that — there are two things. One is digital colonialism. Two was the relationship between these tech people, usually white men, this Silicon Valley ideology of recreating these artifacts. So if ISIS claims these objects, these histories, by destroying them, the Silicon Valley ideology is that the Western tech companies reclaim it by recreating it. So they become…

faustini: they become branded.

Allahyari: That’s the digital colonialism part I am interested in. Because some of these tech companies go to the Middle East and they basically 3-D scan these artifacts, and then they bring it back and they won’t release the files online or give public access to these 3D models. So there’s a question of access, ownership, copyright, profit. I know different websites that you have — for example the model is online, but you can’t really download it. If you want to have access to it, you have to pay $2,000 to download it. Basically, with these new tools, we have entered this digital colonialism era, which didn’t exist before in the same way. So these technologies have brought in these whole new possibilities and problems.

I’ve been talking a lot about this digital colonialism, and what does it mean that we are all celebrating this? “Ooh, look, they are reconstructing these things,” but not asking questions about what happens to these files, what happens to data, ignoring the whole history of colonialism. These Western companies and archeologists going there, 3-D scanning these things, bringing them back.

Did you see the new Palmyra thing that was launched in London? Palmyra was this arc that was destroyed by ISIS. They rebuilt it in collaboration with the UK-based Institute for Digital Archeology, UNESCO, and Dubai’s Museum of the Future Foundation. They recreated this in London and launched it a few months ago. People are taking selfies in front of these things, and everyone is so excited. But what does it mean? What does this act mean, for these people doing this project and then putting it out there?

Another thing that happened when my project was getting all this attention, there were a lot of titles like this: “Artist battles ISIS with a 3-D printer.” “This artist fights ISIS in virtual reality.” Obviously, that’s the problem with doing political-related art. My project definitely got hijacked by media. There has been a lot of amazing reviews by the art world about it, in-depth and really beautifully written. But with the press, it was all that. This kind of framing; and then this which is like creating these things and putting it in London or New York, it creates this thing about it’s us and them. It’s about “look at us.” These civilized Western, white people, bringing these things. We’re the heroes. We’re bringing these things and rebuilding them, against these savages and terrorists and Muslims. It had — a lot of these articles and the way they were framing it, definitely had a xenophobic narrative to it.

I have been trying to keep my project away from it and just talk about my relationship to this piece, because it comes from a lot of personal, poetic — a conceptual relationship to the 3-D printer, to printing, to information, to access… the aesthetics of these specific things.

faustini: how would you summarize your personal position in this as different from the ones espoused by these private parties?

Allahyari: Because it’s about context. It’s about why and how and what way we do things, right? What does it mean? Again, ignoring — putting these things in London and then celebrating it is so fucking dark to me, because it becomes about that position. The Western, civilized people saving the cultural heritage, which suddenly also, like the Middle East cultural heritage is the world’s shared cultural heritage, which I can go on and on about, because that’s bullshit.

If you read these articles and why these archaeologists are interested in recreating these things, the expression that they use is the universal shared cultural heritage. They refer to these things as a cultural heritage that is shared between humans and that is universal, and this ownership over it. That’s why they want to save it, because it’s our shared cultural heritage. Which is like, no! Can we talk about why it’s shared? How is it shared cultural heritage, and when did it become the shared cultural heritage? It’s this universality, which to me, is very dangerous, because then it justifies… [more]
morehshinallahyari  marcellafaustini  2016  interviews  art  siliconvalley  isis  responsibility  us  europe  xenophobia  belonging  activism  additivism  immigration  technology  future  colonialism  culture 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Now Is the Time to Talk About What We Are Actually Talking About - The New Yorker
"America has always been aspirational to me. Even when I chafed at its hypocrisies, it somehow always seemed sure, a nation that knew what it was doing, refreshingly free of that anything-can-happen existential uncertainty so familiar to developing nations. But no longer. The election of Donald Trump has flattened the poetry in America’s founding philosophy: the country born from an idea of freedom is to be governed by an unstable, stubbornly uninformed, authoritarian demagogue. And in response to this there are people living in visceral fear, people anxiously trying to discern policy from bluster, and people kowtowing as though to a new king. Things that were recently pushed to the corners of America’s political space—overt racism, glaring misogyny, anti-intellectualism—are once again creeping to the center.

Now is the time to resist the slightest extension in the boundaries of what is right and just. Now is the time to speak up and to wear as a badge of honor the opprobrium of bigots. Now is the time to confront the weak core at the heart of America’s addiction to optimism; it allows too little room for resilience, and too much for fragility. Hazy visions of “healing” and “not becoming the hate we hate” sound dangerously like appeasement. The responsibility to forge unity belongs not to the denigrated but to the denigrators. The premise for empathy has to be equal humanity; it is an injustice to demand that the maligned identify with those who question their humanity.

America loves winners, but victory does not absolve. Victory, especially a slender one decided by a few thousand votes in a handful of states, does not guarantee respect. Nobody automatically deserves deference on ascending to the leadership of any country. American journalists know this only too well when reporting on foreign leaders—their default mode with Africans, for instance, is nearly always barely concealed disdain. President Obama endured disrespect from all quarters. By far the most egregious insult directed toward him, the racist movement tamely termed “birtherism,” was championed by Trump.

Yet, a day after the election, I heard a journalist on the radio speak of the vitriol between Obama and Trump. No, the vitriol was Trump’s. Now is the time to burn false equivalencies forever. Pretending that both sides of an issue are equal when they are not is not “balanced” journalism; it is a fairy tale—and, unlike most fairy tales, a disingenuous one.

Now is the time to refuse the blurring of memory. Each mention of “gridlock” under Obama must be wrought in truth: that “gridlock” was a deliberate and systematic refusal of the Republican Congress to work with him. Now is the time to call things what they actually are, because language can illuminate truth as much as it can obfuscate it. Now is the time to forge new words. “Alt-right” is benign. “White-supremacist right” is more accurate.

Now is the time to talk about what we are actually talking about. “Climate contrarian” obfuscates. “Climate-change denier” does not. And because climate change is scientific fact, not opinion, this matters.

Now is the time to discard that carefulness that too closely resembles a lack of conviction. The election is not a “simple racism story,” because no racism story is ever a “simple” racism story, in which grinning evil people wearing white burn crosses in yards. A racism story is complicated, but it is still a racism story, and it is worth parsing. Now is not the time to tiptoe around historical references. Recalling Nazism is not extreme; it is the astute response of those who know that history gives both context and warning.

Now is the time to recalibrate the default assumptions of American political discourse. Identity politics is not the sole preserve of minority voters. This election is a reminder that identity politics in America is a white invention: it was the basis of segregation. The denial of civil rights to black Americans had at its core the idea that a black American should not be allowed to vote because that black American was not white. The endless questioning, before the election of Obama, about America’s “readiness” for a black President was a reaction to white identity politics. Yet “identity politics” has come to be associated with minorities, and often with a patronizing undercurrent, as though to refer to nonwhite people motivated by an irrational herd instinct. White Americans have practiced identity politics since the inception of America, but it is now laid bare, impossible to evade.

Now is the time for the media, on the left and right, to educate and inform. To be nimble and alert, clear-eyed and skeptical, active rather than reactive. To make clear choices about what truly matters.

Now is the time to put the idea of the “liberal bubble” to rest. The reality of American tribalism is that different groups all live in bubbles. Now is the time to acknowledge the ways in which Democrats have condescended to the white working class—and to acknowledge that Trump condescends to it by selling it fantasies. Now is the time to remember that there are working-class Americans who are not white and who have suffered the same deprivations and are equally worthy of news profiles. Now is the time to remember that “women” does not equal white women. “Women” must mean all women.

Now is the time to elevate the art of questioning. Is the only valid resentment in America that of white males? If we are to be sympathetic to the idea that economic anxieties lead to questionable decisions, does this apply to all groups? Who exactly are the élite?

Now is the time to frame the questions differently. If everything remained the same, and Hillary Clinton were a man, would she still engender an overheated, outsized hostility? Would a woman who behaved exactly like Trump be elected? Now is the time to stop suggesting that sexism was absent in the election because white women did not overwhelmingly vote for Clinton. Misogyny is not the sole preserve of men.

The case for women is not that they are inherently better or more moral. It is that they are half of humanity and should have the same opportunities—and be judged according to the same standards—as the other half. Clinton was expected to be perfect, according to contradictory standards, in an election that became a referendum on her likability.

Now is the time to ask why America is far behind many other countries (see: Rwanda) in its representation of women in politics. Now is the time to explore mainstream attitudes toward women’s ambition, to ponder to what extent the ordinary political calculations that all politicians make translate as moral failures when we see them in women. Clinton’s careful calibration was read as deviousness. But would a male politician who is carefully calibrated—Mitt Romney, for example—merely read as carefully calibrated?

Now is the time to be precise about the meanings of words. Trump saying “They let you do it” about assaulting women does not imply consent, because consent is what happens before an act.

Now is the time to remember that, in a wave of dark populism sweeping the West, there are alternative forms. Bernie Sanders’s message did not scapegoat the vulnerable. Obama rode a populist wave before his first election, one marked by a remarkable inclusiveness. Now is the time to counter lies with facts, repeatedly and unflaggingly, while also proclaiming the greater truths: of our equal humanity, of decency, of compassion. Every precious ideal must be reiterated, every obvious argument made, because an ugly idea left unchallenged begins to turn the color of normal. It does not have to be like this."
chimamandangoziadichie  culture  politics  us  race  racism  donaldtrump  class  classism  responsibility  resistance  freedom  populism  climatechange  identitypolitics  berniesanders  media  workingclass  economics  listening  sexism  gender  misogyny  rwanda  mittromney  words  howwespeak  communication  consent  2016  elections  hillaryclinton 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Pauline Oliveros, pioneering avant-garde composer, RIP / Boing Boing
“In hearing, the ears take in all the sound waves and particles and deliver them to the audio cortex where the listening takes place," Oliveros once said. "We cannot turn off our ears–the ears are always taking in sound information–but we can turn off our listening. I feel that listening is the basis of creativity and culture. How you’re listening, is how you develop a culture and how a community of people listens, is what creates their culture.”

[via: http://roomthily.tumblr.com/post/153704843462/how-youre-listening-is-how-you-develop-a-culture ]

[See also: http://www.factmag.com/2016/11/25/pauline-oliveros-dies-deep-listening-composer/ ]
paulineoliveros  listening  deeplistening  culture  community  creativity  culturecreation  sfsh  communities  2016  hearning  sound 
november 2016 by robertogreco
The American Thanksgiving - The New York Times
"Americans all come from somewhere. Their families may have roamed the continent for thousands of years before the Mayflower dropped anchor. They may have been on the ship. They may have come on later ones, freely or in chains. They may have come by truck, train or airplane. They came. And their journeys are reflected in the food they or their descendants eat. The Times asked 15 families from across the country to show us the holiday dishes they make that speak most eloquently about their heritage and traditions. The stories of these home cooks help tell the story of the nation, the story of who we are. — SAM SIFTON"
diversity  thanksgiving  us  2016  food  recipes  families  video  glvo  classideas  immigrants  immigration  culture  society  cooking 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Trust Me - Freakonomics Freakonomics
"Societies where people trust one another are healthier and wealthier. In the U.S. (and the U.K. and elsewhere), social trust has been falling for decades — in part because our populations are more diverse. What can we do to fix it?"



"HALPERN: We almost seem to hardly notice that it’s there. So it’s incredibly consequential and we see it in lots of areas of policy that we touch on.

DUBNER: So you write this about low trust: “Low trust implies a society where you have to keep an eye over your shoulder, where deals need lawyers instead of handshakes, where you don’t see the point of paying your tax or recycling your rubbish since you doubt your neighbor will do so, and where employ your cousin or your brother-in-law to work for you rather than a stranger who’d probably be much better at the job.” So that has all kinds of business and ultimately economic implications. However, when you talk about high trust being good for us on a personal level, whether it’s health or individual income, do the two necessarily go in hand? In other words, can we have a society that has a business climate where there isn’t a lot of trust and, therefore, you do need all those lawyers instead of the handshakes, but where you have good social trust among neighbors, family and friends, communities and so on, or are they really the same thing that you’re talking about?

HALPERN: Well, there is a key distinction and Bob Putnam has often made this too, between what’s sometimes called bonding social capital and bridging social capital.

PUTNAM: Social capital is about social networks. But not all social networks are identical, and one important distinction is between ties that link us to other people like us, that’s called bonding social capital.

HALPERN: Bonding social capital often refers to your closeness to your friends, your relatives, those that are immediately around you. It’s particularly important, it turns out for, things such as health outcomes.

PUTNAM: Because, empirically, if you get sick, the people who are likely to bring you chicken soup are likely to represent your bonding social capital."



"PUTNAM: What strategies I would want to emphasize for moving in a positive direction would be more contexts in which people connect with one another across lines of race or economics or gender or age."



"HALPERN: People that go to university end up trusting much more than those who don’t, particularly when they go away residentially. It doesn’t look like it’s explained by income alone. So there’s something about the experience of going off as a young person in an environment where you have lots of other young people from different backgrounds and so on, hopefully, and different ethnicities. You learn the habits of trust because you’re in an environment where you can trust other people; they are trustworthy. And you internalize these habits and you take them with you the rest of your life. So we tend to not think of going away to university as being the reason why you’re doing it is to build social capital and social trust, we think about learning skills and so on, but it may well be that it has as much, or even more value, in terms of culturing social trust going forward. The question is: do you have to do that in university, can you do it another way? So in the U.K., following partly an American lead, the government has championed a national citizen service. And what this means is for every young person, essentially a 17-year-old, increasingly, starts off with a — not everyone does it alone, but more and more every single year, goes and does voluntary experience, community service. This deliberately includes a couple of weeks which are residential and deliberately includes mixing with people from all different walks of life. Look, it’s only limited data, but in terms of before-and-after data, we see significant impacts in terms of higher levels of trust between groups and individuals, as well as instantly higher levels of life satisfaction and well-being too. So it looks like we can do something about it."



"HALPERN: In the most recent data, it looks like it’s one of the biggest risers. So the Netherlands had pretty similar levels of social trust in the 1980s to America and the U.K., but whereas we have now drifted down towards sort of 30-odd percent, they are now up close to 70 percent in levels of those who think others can be trusted.

DUBNER: What would you say it’s caused by?

HALPERN: Well, I mean, one of the characteristics of the Netherlands, and you have to be a bit careful when you pick off one country, is it has wrestled quite hard with the issues of, not just inequality, but social differences. They’ve really tried to do a lot in relation to making people essentially build cohesion. Particularly Amsterdam, is a very famous area for — it’s long been an extremely multicultural city. It’s had issues over that over time, but they’ve really in a sort of succession of governments have tried to quite actively make groups get along with each other in quite an active way. So that may itself, of course, root in the Netherlands, it’s quite a deep culture of a strong sense of the law, being trustworthy and that contracts will be honored and so on. It’s what helped to power its economic success in previous centuries, so it does have that tradition also to draw on."



"PUTNAM: I looked hard to find explanations and television, I argued, is really bad for social connectivity for many reasons.

“More television watching,” Putnam wrote, “means less of virtually every form of civic participation and social involvement.”

HALPERN: As Bob sometimes put it, I think, rather elegantly, when we were looking forward in terms of technology or the Internet and of course, even pre-Facebook and so on, would it be, in his words, a “fancy television”? In other words, it will isolate us more and more. Or would it be a “fancy telephone” and would connect us more and more? Because technology has both those capabilities. So when I played video games when I was a kid, you basically did them mostly by yourself or with a friend. When I look at my teenage kids playing videos, they’re actually talking to each other all the time. To some extent it looks like, to me, that we get the technology that we want, and even this is true at sort of a societal level. So one of the arguments you can make, in my view is true anyway, by explaining some of these differences in the trajectories across countries is in Anglo-Saxon countries, we’ve often used our wealth to buy technology and other experiences. That means we don’t have to deal with other people — the inconveniences of having to go to a concert where I have to listen to music I really like, I can just stay at home and just watch what I want and so on and choose it. And even in the level of, if I think about my kids versus me growing up, I mean when I was growing up we had one TV and there were five kids in the household. You know, had to really negotiate pretty hard about what we were going to watch. My kids don’t have to do that and probably not yours either. There are more screens in the house than there are people. They can all go off and do their own thing. To some extent, that is us using our wealth to escape from having to negotiate with other people, but that isn’t necessarily the case. Some people and some countries seem to use their wealth more to find ways of connecting more with other people. And the technology has both these capabilities and we can’t just blame it. It’s the choices we’re making and how we use it and the technology which we’re, kind of, asking and bringing forth.

DUBNER: It reminds me a bit of — we once looked into the global decline of hitchhiking, for instance. One of the central reasons being that people no longer trusted strangers to not kill each other, really, is what it boiled down to, even though there was apparently very little killing involved, but just the fear of one. And yet now, Uber is a 60-some billion-dollar company that’s basically all about using technology to lure a complete stranger into your car. Which, I guess, argues, if nothing else, the fact that technology can be harnessed very much in either direction.

HALPERN: That’s right. Indeed, so, as you say, there’s actually two points here, and there’s a really important behavioral one, which I think we’ve only figured out in recent years to bring together these different literatures, how does it relate to behavioral scientists versus those people studying social capital? We look like we have certain systematic biases about how we estimate whether we think other people can be trusted. And in essence, we overestimate quite systematically the prevalence of bad behavior. We overestimate the number of people who are cheating on their taxes or take a sickie off work or do other kinds of bad things. This doesn’t seem to be just the media, although that may reinforce it. It seems to be a bit how we’re wired as human beings. So why is that relevant and why does this have to do with technology? Actually, technology can help you solve some of those issues. So when you’re buying something on eBay or you’re trying to decide where to go using, you know Trip Advisor, you’re actually getting some much better information from the experiences of other people as opposed to your guesstimate, which is often systematically biased. So it turns out it’s a way we can sometimes use technology to solve some of these trust issues. Not just in relation to specific products and “Should I buy this thing from this person?” but, potentially, more generally in relation to how do we trust other people because, ultimately, this social trust question must rest on something. It must be a measure of actual trustworthiness. "
trust  diversity  socialtrust  2016  us  society  socialunity  via:davidtedu  trustworthiness  socialcapital  australia  uk  netherlands  davidhalpern  stephendubner  bobputnam  italy  corruption  socialnetworks  civics  government  governance  community  brazil  brasil  norway  edglaeser  tobymoscowitz  hunterwendelstedt  ethnicity  stockholm  education  colleges  universities  military  athletics  multiculturalism  culture  law  economics  behavior  technology  videogames  socialmedia  television  tv  toolsforconviviality  hitchhiking 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Participation is an invitation: Citizen, Citizenship, Participation DVD | Reggio Children
"During the meetings, as the children used different expressive languages to investigate and interpret the themes and meanings of community and citizenship, their words and ideas emerged more and more clearly.
 
It was immediately visible (and audible!) that we were building a sort of alphabet, a lexicon that inventoried the value of citizenship, participation, city, public places, migration, rights, duties…

The children’s reflections represent a special occasion to re-launch, also in other contexts, the themes of welcome, borders, and democracy, and to elicit, we hope, new stories and new opportunities for listening."
reggioemilia  utopia  pocketsofutopia  environment  education  preschool  children  learning  openstudioproject  lcproject  sfsh  tcsnmy  everyday  being  cv  culture  presence  togetherness  citizenship  participation  community  civics  democracy  listening 
november 2016 by robertogreco
The Times of Time | Reggio Children
"an interweaving between the learning experiences of the adults, the experimentation of the children, and the photographic images, highlighting an approach to the visual language that is constructed in a context of many relationships"
reggioemilia  utopia  pocketsofutopia  environment  education  preschool  children  learning  openstudioproject  lcproject  sfsh  tcsnmy  everyday  being  cv  culture  presence  togetherness  relationships  photography 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Everyday Utopias DVD | Reggio Children
"Here we present two videos that are part of The Wonder of Learning - The Hundred Languages of Children exhibition.
 
They describe a day in an infant-toddler centre and a day in a preschool: the everyday-ness of being together, the strength of a way of organizing that is designed but light, knowledgeable but flexible; a special care for the environments and the way of being at school, the idea that the infant-toddler centre and preschool are places in which culture is created.
 
Our hope is to “raise normal children as the result of a hard-won and everyday utopia” (Loris Malaguzzi)."
reggioemilia  utopia  pocketsofutopia  environment  education  preschool  children  learning  openstudioproject  lcproject  sfsh  tcsnmy  everyday  being  cv  culture  presence  togetherness  lorismalaguzzi 
november 2016 by robertogreco
GifCities
"GifCities is a special project of the Internet Archive to celebrate 20 years of preserving the web. Internet Archive is a non-profit digital library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more. Please donate to help us in our efforts to provide “Universal Access to All Knowledge.”"
gif  geocities  nostalgia  culture  archives  internetarchive  gifs 
october 2016 by robertogreco
Discrimination by Design - ProPublica
"It’s likely that as long as humans and their institutions hold prejudices and bias, their designs will reflect them. But some progress is possible. Two decades ago architect Ronald Mace imagined a new standard, in which anything humans make — a new piece of technology, a public park, a household product — is usable by everyone. He called this idea “universal design.” Today it’s an enforceable legal standard in Norway. One way to help us get there? Make sure the design process itself is also accessible to all."
design  discrimination  culture  bias  2016  lengroeger  snapchat  robertmoses  katiezhu  racism  urbanplanning  redlining  industrialdesign  homeless  architecture  bathrooms  kathrynanthony  gender  accessibility  universaldesign  norway  prejudice 
september 2016 by robertogreco
What Is French Cinema Anyway?
"In his review of Mia Hansen-Løve’s Eden, Jonathan Romney, after pointing out the whiteness and bourgeois-ness of the film, describes it as mostly “a quintessentially Parisian film about French youth.” Being French myself, I tend to cringe at any description of a film as “quintessentially” Parisian. Nine times out of 10, what is actually captured is the essence of a microcosm that can only be subjective and incomplete.

American critics have a tendency to freeze French culture into a single image, but who could blame them? Mia Hansen-Løve’s films, for example, do tend to “sell” a certain idea of Frenchness. Then there’s Amélie, directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and starring Audrey Tautou and Mathieu Kassovitz. At its release in 2001, the film received much praise, but also a notoriously scathing review from Les Inrocks’ Serge Kaganski, who criticized the film’s reactionary ideology and passéiste view of Parisian life. Frédéric Bonnaud, Kaganski’s colleague at the magazine, sarcastically described the film as being “too French to be true.”

Although I agree that Amélie is not the best thing that happened to France or French cinema, I found it dishonest that it was this specific film that prompted such criticism, especially when it comes to the whiteness and latent racism of the film. Jean-Pierre Jeunet is considered a mainstream filmmaker, while Mia Hansen-Løve is positioned as an independent auteur. The criticism held against Amélie, the fact that it reduces France to a postcard, enclosed and suffocating, could easily be applied to Hansen-Løve’s films, which also seem to evolve outside of French reality.

This summer, TIFF Cinematheque welcomes a retrospective of one of France’s most legendary New Wave filmmakers, Eric Rohmer. Dangerous Liaisons: The Films of Eric Rohmer includes screenings of classics such as My Night At Maud’s, A Summer’s Tale, Triple Agent and his last film, The Romance of Astrée and Celadon. Even though Rohmer died only in 2010, I feel like I’ve never occupied the same historical space as he did. Watching Rohmer’s movies is a peculiar cine-ethnographic experience. I might share a language and a nationality with the creatures on-screen, but they seem to come from another dimension. If not from France, where does Rohmer come from?"



"Rohmer’s themes — love, friendship, fidelity, and fate — are universal. However, it is his treatment of them, the way he delays the action and even neutralizes it, that distinguishes his films from American films on the same subjects. In both My Night At Maud’s and Chloé In The Afternoon, a man and a woman want to consummate their love. Yet, they spend the length of the film verbally playing cat-and-mouse, questioning the possibility and morality of the act itself. As spectators, we derive pleasure (or irritation) through the deployment of language, the precise dialogue and preciousness with which the actors pronounce the words. It is not a coincidence that one of Rohmer’s actors was the verbose Fabrice Luchini. The first scene of The Tree, The Mayor and The Mediatheque shows him teaching a grammar class to what seems like sixth graders. Asked whether he’d shoot a film in the U.S. (like his fellow Cahiers’ critic François Truffaut), Rohmer said that his love for French language was too much of an integral part of his aesthetic to consider it. His dialogues are not only pedagogical, but part of the acoustic of his films, of their musicality.

My current favourite Rohmer film is probably the late ‘80s girl buddy film Four Adventures of Reinette and Mirabelle, the closest to a teen movie Rohmer has ever filmed. (The girls are actually in college.) Following the titular Reinette and Mirabelle in their respective environments, the director showcases his talent in filming and revealing landscapes both urban and rural. Even though he was born in the province, Paris seemed to have been Rohmer’s main love, the place where most of his stories take place, as demonstrated in this video essay by Richard Misek.

What is an event in a Rohmer film? A man buying a green shirt in Chloe In The Afternoon. Reinette and Mirabelle, waiting for a blue night in the countryside. Drinking, reading a book. And always two individuals encountering each other, not knowing what their fate will be. Plots and storylines exist in the Rohmerian world, but they are digression-friendly."



"The influence of American cinema on Eric Rohmer was subtle, if not invisible. Of all the New Wave filmmakers, he’s the one that cannot be accused of being complacent with the American cinema’s aesthetic. His films were very French, even perpetuating and creating a fixed idea of Frenchness and French cinema. But what’s so French about the New Wave and more specifically, Eric Rohmer? What makes a French film, French?

Perhaps, the gratuitous nudity, the long conversations in cafes, beaches and bedrooms, Paris, older men desiring younger girls, the theatricality and artificiality of the conversations. The cinema of Éric Rohmer, at first glance, contains all the clichés associated with French cinema."



"Today’s French filmmakers inevitably make films with American images and stylistic tactics in mind. To borrow words from Dusan Makavjev, who was quoted in Thomas Elsaesser’s European Cinema: Face to Face with Hollywood, “to live in the twenty first century is learning to be American.” In the ‘90s when Éric Rohmer was delivering his “Tales of Four Seasons,” in which young ephebes were singing regional French folks songs, American cultural hegemony had established itself for good in France. No amount of European and ruthless French anti-Americanism and cultural protectionism had prevented American pop culture from flooding our theatres and television screens. The fear expressed in this quote recalls the fear of “Americanization” or “coca-colonisation” during the interwar period, which led to the creation of policies that would limit the number of American films on French screens. Authorities were anxious that the passive consumption of Hollywood products would lead to a kind of inner displacement, encouraging a concrete one, a betrayal of the nation, and the adoption of a lifestyle and the star-spangled flag."



"But not all contemporary French filmmakers are taking a flight from French reality. Abdellatif Kechiche, the director of the controversial Palme D’or-winning film Blue is the Warmest Color, is probably the most Rohmerian working filmmaker in France right now. Like Rohmer, Kechiche functions as a chronicler of contemporary French life with an attention for language and French youth in all its diversity. Young girls also have a central, constitutive place in Kechiche’s cinema. Blue is the Warmest Color contained all his obsessions. Running three hours long, it was a culmination of his filmmaking style with its succession of long scenes. We also find the eloquence and expressivity of Rohmerian characters, though with less sculpted direction in their performances. Kechichian encounters are more violent and crude, as the sex, fighting and eating shows us. But the highbrow, intellectual conversations on Klimt, Bob Marley and Sartre are there.

I definitely believe that the future of a specifically French cinema is in the hands of immigrants. We have the desire to not only reclaim specific spaces as ours, but to also depict the way we have been alienated from them. French cinema has merely started giving a place to characters who look and talk like us. Once the movies begin to fully register our existence, it will not need to look at America anymore, as our lives are as epic and special as the ones overseas. The real legacy of the French New Wave and Rohmer’s films is to have given us the tools to carve out a space in which we’ll be able to imagine our own cinematic manifestations. Meanwhile, we have the opportunity like they did with American cinema, to study their films so that we can create our own singular forms."
fantasylla  film  france  éricrohmer  miahansen-løve  cinema  future  culture  immigration  alienation  jean-pierrejeunet  sergekaganski  frédéricbonnaud  howardhawks  alfredhitchcock  dwgriffith  macksennett  frenchnewwave  dusanmakavjev  thomaselsaesser  abdellatifkechiche  fabricegobert  célinesciamma 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Wasting Time on the Internet? Not Really - The New York Times
"Two years ago, Kenneth Goldsmith, the University of Pennsylvania poet and conceptual artist, taught a creative writing course he called “Wasting Time on the Internet.” Students would do just that, probing the tedium of the internet. But thanks to in-class use of social media, the class also became a creative ferment of improvised dance, trust experiments and inquiries into the modern nature of the self and the crowd.

The constant experimentation changed Mr. Goldsmith into a self-described “radical optimist” about the internet, too. While many of his peers worry about the effects that endless tweets and bad videos have on our minds and souls, he sees a positive new culture being built. The first poet laureate of the Museum of Modern Art, appointed in 2013, he believes we are headed into a creative renaissance, one with unprecedented speed and inclusion.

Meanwhile, the class has evolved into a seminar on collective “time wasting” that Mr. Goldsmith has held in several countries, and it returns to Penn this fall. His new book, named after the course, will be available this month.

Why write this book?

I had cognitive dissonance. Theorists say the internet is making us dumber, but something magical happened when my students wasted time together. They became more creative with each other. They say we’re less social; I think people on the web are being social all the time. They say we’re not reading; I think we’re reading all the time, just online.

I’m an artist, and artists feel things, we distrust these studies. As a poet I wanted to observe, I wanted to feel things.

You compare online experiences with 20th-century philosophies and artistic movements.

The DNA of the web is embedded in 20th-century movements like Surrealism, where artists sought to live in a state like dreaming, or Pop Art, where they leveraged popular culture to make bigger points about society. Postmodernism is about sampling things and remixing them, and that is made real in this digital world.

When I teach my students about the historical preconditions for what they are doing when they waste time together — things like Surrealism or Cubism — the theoretical framework helps them know that the web isn’t a break, it’s a continuity with earlier great thinking.

But if we’re just remixing, are we creating?

When a D.J. brings a laptop full of music samples to a club he doesn’t play an instrument, but we don’t argue that he isn’t doing something creative in mixing those sounds to create his own effect. In the online world the only thing you’re the master of is your collection, your archive, and how you use it, how you remix it. We become digital archivists, collecting and cataloging things. I find it exciting.

What will an educated person be in the future?

We still read great books, and there is a place for great universities. But an educated person in the future will be a curious person who collects better artifacts. The ability to call up and use facts is the new education. How to tap them, how to use them.

If we change as a culture, do we change ourselves?

I’ve got a 10-year-old and 17-year-old. They’re thinking differently from me. They stay connected all the time, and they’re smart, they play baseball, they read, they spend time online. They’re not robots. Basic human qualities haven’t changed. I can find Plato in online life. When I read Samuel Pepys’s diary I see Facebook posts. We just find new ways to express things."
kennethgoldsmith  internet  archives  cv  online  remixing  culture  2016  social  sharing  djs  djing  creativity  creation  curiosity  artifacts  collections  recall  search  samuelpepys  plato  howweread  howwewrite  collecting  cataloging  surrealism  cubism  howwelearn  web 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Welcome to AirSpace | The Verge
"It’s easy to see how social media shapes our interactions on the internet, through web browsers, feeds, and apps. Yet technology is also shaping the physical world, influencing the places we go and how we behave in areas of our lives that didn’t heretofore seem so digital. Think of the traffic app Waze rerouting cars in Los Angeles and disrupting otherwise quiet neighborhoods; Airbnb parachuting groups of international tourists into residential communities; Instagram spreading IRL lifestyle memes; or Foursquare sending traveling businessmen to the same cafe over and over again.

We could call this strange geography created by technology "AirSpace." It’s the realm of coffee shops, bars, startup offices, and co-live / work spaces that share the same hallmarks everywhere you go: a profusion of symbols of comfort and quality, at least to a certain connoisseurial mindset. Minimalist furniture. Craft beer and avocado toast. Reclaimed wood. Industrial lighting. Cortados. Fast internet. The homogeneity of these spaces means that traveling between them is frictionless, a value that Silicon Valley prizes and cultural influencers like Schwarzmann take advantage of. Changing places can be as painless as reloading a website. You might not even realize you’re not where you started.

It’s possible to travel all around the world and never leave AirSpace, and some people don’t. Well-off travelers like Kevin Lynch, an ad executive who lived in Hong Kong Airbnbs for three years, are abandoning permanent houses for digital nomadism. Itinerant entrepreneurs, floating on venture capital, might head to a Bali accelerator for six months as easily as going to the grocery store. AirSpace is their home.

As the geography of AirSpace spreads, so does a certain sameness. Schwarzmann’s cafe phenomenon recalls what the architect Rem Koolhaas noticed in his prophetic essay "The Generic City," from the 1995 book S,M,L,XL: "Is the contemporary city like the contemporary airport—‘all the same’?" he asks. "What if this seemingly accidental—and usually regretted—homogenization were an intentional process, a conscious movement away from difference toward similarity?"

Yet AirSpace is now less theory than reality. The interchangeability, ceaseless movement, and symbolic blankness that was once the hallmark of hotels and airports, qualities that led the French anthropologist Marc Augé to define them in 1992 as "non-places," has leaked into the rest of life.

As an affluent, self-selecting group of people move through spaces linked by technology, particular sensibilities spread, and these small pockets of geography grow to resemble one another, as Schwarzmann discovered: the coffee roaster Four Barrel in San Francisco looks like the Australian Toby’s Estate in Brooklyn looks like The Coffee Collective in Copenhagen looks like Bear Pond Espresso in Tokyo. You can get a dry cortado with perfect latte art at any of them, then Instagram it on a marble countertop and further spread the aesthetic to your followers.

This confluence of style is being accelerated by companies that foster a sense of placelessness, using technology to break down geography. Airbnb is a prominent example. Even as it markets unique places as consumable goods, it helps its users travel without actually having to change their environment, or leave the warm embrace of AirSpace."



"This year, Airbnb moved from passively shaping the spaces users inhabit, to changing the way they travel by creating in-app guidebooks that will provide Foursquare-like recommendations to guests based on host tips. Just this week, the company also announced Samara, an in-house design and engineering studio that will "pioneer services for connection, commerce, and social change within and around the expanding Airbnb community," Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia said in the press release. Samara’s first residence and community center in Nara Prefecture, Japan, Gebbia suggests, will enable a kind of voyeurism for foreign tourists: "I picture Western guests walking up, stepping inside, and you’re interacting with the community from the minute you arrive," he told Fast Company.

Yet the AirSpace aesthetic that Airbnb has contributed to, and the geography it creates, limits experiences of difference in the service of comforting a particular demographic ("the vanilla tourist") falsely defined as the norm. It is a "hallucination of the normal," as Koolhaas writes. This is the harmful illusion that so much technology, and technological culture, perpetuates: if you do not fit within its predefined structures as an effective user, you must be doing something wrong. Says Schwarzmann, "It’s a bubble, a lot of things that are reinforcing our bubble. I’m definitely part of the described problem. White, male, privileged and I travel a lot."

Among the phenomenon’s consequences is depersonalization, in the psychiatric sense: "a state in which one loses all sense of identity." I personally like the AirSpace style. I can’t say no to a tasteful, clean, modern life space. But thinking through its roots and negative implications makes me reconsider my attachment. It’s hard to identify with something so empty at its core.

In the advent of AirSpace, our options are limited. The first is finding "the advantages of blankness," as Koolhaas writes, becoming connoisseurs of "the color variations in the fluorescent lighting of an office building just before sunset, the subtleties of the slightly different whites of an illuminated sign at night." Kanyi Maqubela, the Roam investor, sees meaning in the generic from an unexpected source. "If you go to Catholic church in most parts of the world, the mass is going to feel like the mass. There is still a sense of unity," he says. "We’re starting to enter the world where these private companies have some of that magic to them, the notion of feeling at home across time zones in any country."

Suggesting that Airbnb could become the next Vatican is a stretch, however. While it would be impossible to stop the spread of the generic style—like trying to stop all hotels from looking the same—there are still steps to consider against the imperfect frictionlessness of the territory it occupies. This could come in the form of legislation that resists the spread of services like Airbnb (as Berlin, Paris, New York and San Francisco are considering), or a simple personal choice to become more invested in the local than the mobile — to opt for the flawed community bed & breakfast rather than the temporary, immaculate apartment. Seeking out difference is important, particularly when technology makes it so easy to avoid doing so.

Left unchecked, there is a kind of nightmare version of AirSpace that could spread room by room, cafe by cafe across the world. It’s already there, if you look for it. There are blank white lofts with subway-tile bathrooms, modular furniture, wall-mounted TVs, high-speed internet, and wide, viewless windows in every city, whether it’s downtown Madrid; Nørrebro, Copenhagen; or Gulou, Beijing. Once you take the place of the people who live there, you can head out to their favorite coffee shops, bars, or workspaces, which will be instantly recognizable because they look just like the apartment that you’re living in. You will probably enjoy it. You might think, ‘This is nice, I am comfortable.’ And then you can move on to the next one, only a click away."
2016  airbnb  culture  sameness  internationalization  homogenization  design  architecture  interiors  kylechayka  socialmedia  airspace  depersonalization  generic 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Against Interpretation
[before quoting the entirety, quoting one line:

"What is important now is to recover our senses. We must learn to see more, to hear more, to feel more."]

"“Content is a glimpse of something, an encounter like a flash. It’s very tiny - very tiny, content.”
- Willem De Kooning, in an interview

“It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.”
- Oscar Wilde, in a letter

1

The earliest experience of art must have been that it was incantatory, magical; art was an instrument of ritual. (Cf. the paintings in the caves at Lascaux, Altamira, Niaux, La Pasiega, etc.) The earliest theory of art, that of the Greek philosophers, proposed that art was mimesis, imitation of reality.

It is at this point that the peculiar question of the value of art arose. For the mimetic theory, by its very terms, challenges art to justify itself.

Plato, who proposed the theory, seems to have done so in order to rule that the value of art is dubious. Since he considered ordinary material things as themselves mimetic objects, imitations of transcendent forms or structures, even the best painting of a bed would be only an “imitation of an imitation.” For Plato, art is neither particularly useful (the painting of a bed is no good to sleep on), nor, in the strict sense, true. And Aristotle’s arguments in defense of art do not really challenge Plato’s view that all art is an elaborate trompe l’oeil, and therefore a lie. But he does dispute Plato’s idea that art is useless. Lie or no, art has a certain value according to Aristotle because it is a form of therapy. Art is useful, after all, Aristotle counters, medicinally useful in that it arouses and purges dangerous emotions.

In Plato and Aristotle, the mimetic theory of art goes hand in hand with the assumption that art is always figurative. But advocates of the mimetic theory need not close their eyes to decorative and abstract art. The fallacy that art is necessarily a “realism” can be modified or scrapped without ever moving outside the problems delimited by the mimetic theory.

The fact is, all Western consciousness of and reflection upon art have remained within the confines staked out by the Greek theory of art as mimesis or representation. It is through this theory that art as such - above and beyond given works of art - becomes problematic, in need of defense. And it is the defense of art which gives birth to the odd vision by which something we have learned to call “form” is separated off from something we have learned to call “content,” and to the well-intentioned move which makes content essential and form accessory.

Even in modern times, when most artists and critics have discarded the theory of art as representation of an outer reality in favor of the theory of art as subjective expression, the main feature of the mimetic theory persists. Whether we conceive of the work of art on the model of a picture (art as a picture of reality) or on the model of a statement (art as the statement of the artist), content still comes first. The content may have changed. It may now be less figurative, less lucidly realistic. But it is still assumed that a work of art is its content. Or, as it’s usually put today, that a work of art by definition says something. (“What X is saying is . . . ,” “What X is trying to say is . . .,” “What X said is . . .” etc., etc.)

2

None of us can ever retrieve that innocence before all theory when art knew no need to justify itself, when one did not ask of a work of art what it said because one knew (or thought one knew) what it did. From now to the end of consciousness, we are stuck with the task of defending art. We can only quarrel with one or another means of defense. Indeed, we have an obligation to overthrow any means of defending and justifying art which becomes particularly obtuse or onerous or insensitive to contemporary needs and practice.

This is the case, today, with the very idea of content itself. Whatever it may have been in the past, the idea of content is today mainly a hindrance, a nuisance, a subtle or not so subtle philistinism.

Though the actual developments in many arts may seem to be leading us away from the idea that a work of art is primarily its content, the idea still exerts an extraordinary hegemony. I want to suggest that this is because the idea is now perpetuated in the guise of a certain way of encountering works of art thoroughly ingrained among most people who take any of the arts seriously. What the overemphasis on the idea of content entails is the perennial, never consummated project of interpretation. And, conversely, it is the habit of approaching works of art in order to interpret them that sustains the fancy that there really is such a thing as the content of a work of art.

3

Of course, I don’t mean interpretation in the broadest sense, the sense in which Nietzsche (rightly) says, “There are no facts, only interpretations.” By interpretation, I mean here a conscious act of the mind which illustrates a certain code, certain “rules” of interpretation.

Directed to art, interpretation means plucking a set of elements (the X, the Y, the Z, and so forth) from the whole work. The task of interpretation is virtually one of translation. The interpreter says, Look, don’t you see that X is really - or, really means - A? That Y is really B? That Z is really C?

What situation could prompt this curious project for transforming a text? History gives us the materials for an answer. Interpretation first appears in the culture of late classical antiquity, when the power and credibility of myth had been broken by the “realistic” view of the world introduced by scientific enlightenment. Once the question that haunts post-mythic consciousness - that of the seemliness of religious symbols - had been asked, the ancient texts were, in their pristine form, no longer acceptable. Then interpretation was summoned, to reconcile the ancient texts to “modern” demands. Thus, the Stoics, to accord with their view that the gods had to be moral, allegorized away the rude features of Zeus and his boisterous clan in Homer’s epics. What Homer really designated by the adultery of Zeus with Leto, they explained, was the union between power and wisdom. In the same vein, Philo of Alexandria interpreted the literal historical narratives of the Hebrew Bible as spiritual paradigms. The story of the exodus from Egypt, the wandering in the desert for forty years, and the entry into the promised land, said Philo, was really an allegory of the individual soul’s emancipation, tribulations, and final deliverance. Interpretation thus presupposes a discrepancy between the clear meaning of the text and the demands of (later) readers. It seeks to resolve that discrepancy. The situation is that for some reason a text has become unacceptable; yet it cannot be discarded. Interpretation is a radical strategy for conserving an old text, which is thought too precious to repudiate, by revamping it. The interpreter, without actually erasing or rewriting the text, is altering it. But he can’t admit to doing this. He claims to be only making it intelligible, by disclosing its true meaning. However far the interpreters alter the text (another notorious example is the Rabbinic and Christian “spiritual” interpretations of the clearly erotic Song of Songs), they must claim to be reading off a sense that is already there.

Interpretation in our own time, however, is even more complex. For the contemporary zeal for the project of interpretation is often prompted not by piety toward the troublesome text (which may conceal an aggression), but by an open aggressiveness, an overt contempt for appearances. The old style of interpretation was insistent, but respectful; it erected another meaning on top of the literal one. The modern style of interpretation excavates, and as it excavates, destroys; it digs “behind” the text, to find a sub-text which is the true one. The most celebrated and influential modern doctrines, those of Marx and Freud, actually amount to elaborate systems of hermeneutics, aggressive and impious theories of interpretation. All observable phenomena are bracketed, in Freud’s phrase, as manifest content. This manifest content must be probed and pushed aside to find the true meaning - the latent content - beneath. For Marx, social events like revolutions and wars; for Freud, the events of individual lives (like neurotic symptoms and slips of the tongue) as well as texts (like a dream or a work of art) - all are treated as occasions for interpretation. According to Marx and Freud, these events only seem to be intelligible. Actually, they have no meaning without interpretation. To understand is to interpret. And to interpret is to restate the phenomenon, in effect to find an equivalent for it.

Thus, interpretation is not (as most people assume) an absolute value, a gesture of mind situated in some timeless realm of capabilities. Interpretation must itself be evaluated, within a historical view of human consciousness. In some cultural contexts, interpretation is a liberating act. It is a means of revising, of transvaluing, of escaping the dead past. In other cultural contexts, it is reactionary, impertinent, cowardly, stifling.

4

Today is such a time, when the project of interpretation is largely reactionary, stifling. Like the fumes of the automobile and of heavy industry which befoul the urban atmosphere, the effusion of interpretations of art today poisons our sensibilities. In a culture whose already classical dilemma is the hypertrophy of the intellect at the expense of energy and sensual capability, interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art.

Even more. It is the revenge of the intellect upon the world. To interpret is to impoverish, to deplete the world - in order to set up a shadow world of “meanings.” It is to turn … [more]
art  interpretation  philosophy  theory  essays  susansontag  plato  artistotle  film  representation  innocence  nietzsche  proust  kafka  tennesseewilliams  jean-lucgodard  rolandbarthes  erwinpanofsky  northropfrye  walterbenjamin  yasujirōozu  robertbresson  culture  thought  senses  oscarwilde  willemdekooning  content  appearances  aesthetics  invisibile  myth  antiquity  karlmarx  freud  jamesjoyce  rainermariarilke  andrégide  dhlawrence  jeancocteau  alainresnais  alainrobbe-grillet  ingmarbergman  ezrapund  tseliot  dgriffith  françoistruffaut  michelangeloantonioni  ermannoolmi  criticism  pierrefrancastel  mannyfarber  dorothyvanghent  rndalljarrell  waltwhitman  williamfaulkner 
july 2016 by robertogreco
The Oppressive Gospel of ‘Minimalism’ - The New York Times
[See also: http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2016/03/marie-kondo-and-the-privilege-of-clutter/475266/ ]

"“Minimalism” was eventually canonized as an art-historical movement, but the name came to mean something different as it was adopted into consumer culture and turned into a class signifier. What was once a way artists shocked viewers became over the decades a style as delimited and consumable as any Martha Stewart tablescape. The word was defanged, no longer a critical insult and no longer a viable strategy within art — though it never quite gave up its veneer of provocation. Even austerity can be made decadent: To wealthy practitioners, minimalism is now little more than a slightly intriguing perversion, like drinking at breakfast. “One of the real problems with design-world minimalism is that it’s just become a signifier of the global elite,” Raskin says. “The richer you are, the less you have.”

The minimalists’ aesthetic of raw materials and aggressive simplicity leaked into fashion, design and architecture, where it became a luxury product, helped along at times by the artists themselves. Judd’s SoHo loft building is now an icon of sanitized minimalism, open to tourists. His Chinati Foundation, a permanent installation of concrete and metal boxes in and around a decommissioned military base in Marfa, Tex., is a site of hipster pilgrimage. It even appears in Ben Lerner’s “10:04,” a novel redolent of late-capitalist anxiety. The protagonist visits the town on an artist’s residency, where he wanders the desert landscape, parties with young people and accidentally ingests ketamine — but it’s Judd’s installation that provides an epiphany. The sculptures, he writes, “combined to collapse my sense of inside and outside.” Judd’s work “had itself come to contain the world.”

Today’s minimalism, by contrast, is visually oppressive; it comes with an inherent pressure to conform to its precepts. Whiteness, in a literal sense, is good. Mess, heterogeneity, is bad — the opposite impulse of artistic minimalism. It is anxiety-inducing in a manner indistinguishable from other forms of consumerism, not revolutionary at all. Do I own the right things? Have I jettisoned enough of the wrong ones? In a recent interview with Apartamento magazine set against interior shots of his all-white home in Rockaway, Queens, the tastemaker and director of MoMA PS1 Klaus Biesenbach explained, “I don’t aim to own things.”

Minimalism is now conflated with self-optimization, the trend that also resulted in fitness trackers and Soylent (truly a minimalist food — it looks like nothing, but inspires thoughts of everything else). Often driven by technol­ogy, this optimization is expensive and exclusively branded by and for the elite. In Silicon Valley, the minimalism fetish can perhaps be traced back to Steve Jobs’s famously austere 1980s apartment (he sat on the floor) and the attendant simplicity of Apple products. Pare down, and you, too, could run a $700 billion company. A thriving Reddit forum on minimalism debates the worth of Muji products and which hobbies count as minimalist-appropriate, in a communal attempt to live the most effective, if perhaps not the most joyful, life.

These minimalist-arrivistes present it as a logical end to lifestyle, culture and even morality: If we attain only the right things, the perfect things, and forsake all else, then we will be free from the tyranny of our desires. But time often proves aesthetic permanence, as well as moral high ground, to be illusory. And already, the pendulum is swinging back.

Writing in The Atlantic in March, Arielle Bernstein described minimalism’s ban on clutter as a “privilege” that runs counter to the value ascribed to an abundance of objects by those who have suffered from a lack of them — less-empowered people like refugees or immigrants. The movement, such as it is, is led in large part by a group of men who gleefully ditch their possessions as if to disavow the advantages by which they obtained them. But it takes a lot to be minimalist: social capital, a safety net and access to the internet. The technology we call minimalist might fit in our pockets, but it depends on a vast infrastructure of grim, air-conditioned server farms and even grimmer Chinese factories. As Lerner’s protagonist observes in “10:04,” even a dull convenience like a can of instant coffee grounds reaches him thanks to a fragile and tremendously wasteful network of global connections, a logistics chain that defies all logic, one undergirded by exploited laborers and vast environmental degradation.

There’s an arrogance to today’s minimalism that presumes it provides an answer rather than, as originally intended, a question: What other perspectives are possible when you look at the world in a different way? The fetishized austerity and performative asceticism of minimalism is a kind of ongoing cultural sickness. We misinterpret material renunciation, austere aesthetics and blank, emptied spaces as symbols of capitalist absolution, when these trends really just provide us with further ways to serve our impulse to consume more, not less."
minimalism  2016  mariekondo  asceticism  possessions  culture  society  consumption  ariellebernstein  kylechayka  siliconvalley  affluence  inequality  privilege  austerity  greatrecession  donaldjudd  davidraskin  aesthetics  technology  abundance  tidying 
july 2016 by robertogreco
coelasquid: castleships: Okay I’m only gonna...
[original post by @castleships]

"Okay I’m only gonna say this once and preface this with the fact that I am Eyak and I probably do not want to hear your opinion on the Pharah skins Raindancer/Thunderbird. This is a really soul baring post so I’m not so sure about people reblogging it, if you do just try to be respective and remember this isn’t a go-ahead to go and appropriate all native cultures.

They’re pretty damn clearly based on Pacific Northwest tribal cultures. The ones I can pick out being Eyak/Tlingit/Haida/Tsimshian, but we often get grouped together so that doesn’t surprise me. There are many more, but I don’t claim familiarity with all tribes and I can’t say if their art styles and myths were used.

For your comparison a little sample of the tribe’s artistic styles just to get the point across:

[two images, one of traditional art, the other of the Overwatch characters ]

And I really have to get something off my chest people. I don’t have a problem with these skins, in fact I adore them. Please just chill with me for a second while I explain.

The biggest issue I see here is people (who usually arn’t ndn, let alone from pac nw tribes) yelling about cultural appropriation. Which good! I’m glad people are on guard for it! But it’s entirely possible that Pharah’s father was Eyak/Tlingit/Haida/Tsimshian or from another closely related Pacific Northwest tribe, so we can’t really call that yet. It wouldn’t surprise me if he was.

Most importantly, speaking as an Eyak. Which is all I can do despite Tlingit/Haida/Tsimshian being so closely related, our tribe’s relationship with cultural appropriation is uh, not exactly the norm.

The last Eyak fluent speaker died in 2008, her name was Chief Marie Smith Jones and she was also the last full-blooded Eyak on Earth. The very last. Please appropriate Eyak culture. It’s the only way it’s going to survive. There’s less than 500 of us remaining, and we’re scattered more and more every year. Families I grew up with in Alaska converted to Catholicism. The military took my family across the globe and left us an entire continent away. The language I learned at the dinner table in 1998 now almost exclusively exists on those cassette tapes my white father recorded that night and in reconstructive attempts from a French academic that studied our language from halfway across the globe.

It sucks shit guys, it really does.

When I first saw the Thunderbird skin I cried, I cried for an hour. Because Overwatch is huge. It will live on for years if not decades. And there’s Pharah with her hair in braids I haven’t seen my mother wear in over a decade. Wearing the colors that remind me of a home I no longer have. Embodying a mythic figure that I trusted to protect me during Y2K and sought out constellations in the sky for.

So before you spew vitriol about how racist it is that they did that. Just kind of chill out and think about different perspectives for a moment. If you really want to help us? Consider taking a poke about http://www.eyakpeople.com/ and taking a look at our language revitalization project! It’s pretty fun and you could even learn a language out of it.

AwA’ahdah (Thank You)"

[the extension by @coelasquid via reblog]

"I just wanted to reblog this because it’s something I think about a lot in terms of how viewing cultural appropriation in a very black and white binary has the end result of making white supremacy stronger than ever. By treating different arts and cultures like that plastic-wrapped grandma furniture no one’s allowed to sit on because it needs to remain perfectly preserved, white culture and art becomes the only one people feel as though they can safely engage in. I absolutely know this is done from the very conscientious place of trying to prevent the dominant culture from taking things they like and running off with them like Jack Skellington, but when it’s taken in extremely pass/fail terms it makes it very difficult for people to celebrate their OWN cultures.

Of course the best answer is “let people tell their own stories and make their own art” but I have been told by several people from a number of different backgrounds that this hostility toward anything resembling cultural exchange by audiences assuming everyone behind the scenes is white makes them afraid to engage in their OWN culture in any public way for fear of being told they’re getting it wrong. I see this happen fairly regularly in a number of creative fields, television, fashion, art, even cosplay. The number of times I see cosplayers accused of “lying about their race” when they try to dress up like a character who IS supposed to be the same background as them every con season is staggering.

This is very anecdotal but just to look at it from another perspective, I personally am not native but I’m from a very Cree community. A significant number of my friends growing up were native and Métis, our school offered Cree as a second language, we had a Cree choir, Native studies was a mandatory class to get a diploma from our school division. As far back as 5th grade, traditional craftwork was a part of social studies when we were learning about different native nations across Canada. This included beadwork, like looms and embroidery on moccasins. I’m sure the intent was probably to make historically accurate designs, but being 11 year olds we all realized pretty quick it was like pixel art and we could write words and make little pictures, and everyone was working on their beading looms making patterns they designed themselves for months after the unit that required it ended. This was a group of kids, native and non-native alike, engaging in something they were taught in an educational context long after they were required to because they found a way to enjoy it in a contemporary manner that made it fun for them. That kind of thing was encouraged from us a lot, I remember a juried art show for our school division actively encouraging all of the students to focus more on native art and techniques if they planned on entering.

I remember experiencing a bit of a culture shock when I moved out of Northern Canada for the first time and experienced a white friend criticizing a Haida-inspired piece we saw in the hall at our art school for not being “accurate enough”. I was extremely confused because as, a 17 year old raised in Northern Canada my entire life, I’d never experienced that kind of criticism of engaging with native art in a modern, contemporary way before. I just kept thinking “You have no idea who made this! How do you expect modern Native people to enjoy making their own art if you’re going to criticize it for not being held up to a textbook standard?”

Obviously now that I’m more worldly and educated in what society is like outside of Northern Canada I understand the nuance of the situation and the different perspectives that people have informed by their own experiences, but It’s also important to remember that if you turn white culture into the only one people feel allowed to engage with in a fun contemporary manner, it will always remain dominant. This is of course not to say “cultural appropriation is made up, do whatever you want” or anything like that, just that it’s a very multi-dimensional issue to consider."
appropriation  culture  tumblr  overwatch  videogames  games  gaming  nativeamericans  pacificnorthwestnatives  via:vruba  eyak  tlingit  haida  tsimshian  complexity  whiteness  whitesupremacy 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Our Fairy Tales Ourselves: Storytelling From East to West | Literary Hub
"Mall Santas not withstanding, there is of course only one Santa in the west. But my son, raised on a diet of both Japanese and western children’s books, didn’t seem bothered by the discrepancy. It was simply a story. Another kind of story, set in Japan, where one thing was always turning into hundreds of things and where every animal, not to mention every food item in a refrigerator, could always talk and stories did not necessarily proceed in a standard linear fashion. Not for the first time it dawned on me: we imprint on what a story ought to be extremely early in life. Whether we know it or not, our childhood reading—fairy tales in particular—tell us what successful story structure is and is not, and what ought to feel satisfying.

I had a conversation about this with a film director in Japan one time, and he said to me that after his son was born, he had tried to read Curious George in translation. “And I thought,” said the director, “that we would never have a monkey behave like that in a Japanese children’s book. And then I realized—so this is how Americans are growing up. With Curious George.”

* * * *

I’ve been thinking a lot about how we learn our stories. In my twenties, I received a personalized rejection letter from an agent for a manuscript that will hopefully never see the light of day. The letter contained phrases like “becoming a writer takes a long time,” and “perhaps consider going to school.” She also suggested that I read The Writer’s Journey, by Christopher Vogler."



"A portion of my childhood was spent in Japan; my mother took me there every summer. While I was allotted two hours of TV a week in the United States (my parents religiously followed movie ratings, which means I still haven’t seen The Jerk), I was allowed to view as much television in Japan as I wanted, under the guise that it would help me with my language skills. And so I watched and watched. Occasionally I would see something on TV that deeply captured my imagination and love, but which sent me into such a fit of tears that my mother would literally spend hours trying to console me over the injustice of a purely tragic ending while she cursed her culture for being irresponsibly sad. For in Japan, stories could be devastatingly, irredeemably wretched. Ghosts could triumph over the living. People also had sex on TV and there were breasts! The stories—life—felt at once more fraught, but more colorful, as if the very act of being alive was more daring on Japanese television than at home. But it wasn’t a fake fraught. Innocent people suffered as a result of living in a perilous if vibrant world.

Over the past two decades, it has been interesting to watch Hong Kong action films and Japanese cartoons, or manga and anime, make their way across the ocean to find a vast audience in the west. So, too, have some novelists in translation become popular, chief among them Haruki Murakami. I think that part of what readers and audiences are responding to is a “fresh” way of experiencing a story.

Take, for example, the animated film Spirited Away, in which the young heroine, Chihiro, is suddenly separated from her parents, and finds herself in another realm, populated by gods and invisible beings, who congregate at a bathhouse. To return to her parents, Chihiro will need to work at this bathhouse, though the way home is far more circuitous than it was, say, for Dorothy trying to return to Kansas. Dorothy gets rid of two out of four witches (the evil witches are ugly, and the good ones beautiful). She also must see the Wizard.

The rules are less clear for Chihiro. While working at the bathhouse, Chihiro encounters the proprietress Yubaba, who with her large nose, oversized head and copious wrinkles seems, at first glance, to epitomize the evil ugly witch made incarnate. But as the movie progresses, it becomes less and less clear if Yubaba is in fact purely evil. When her twin sister, Zeniba shows up, the same features that made Yubaba so intimidating, appear almost grandmotherly; elderly people can, in fact, slip out of one role and into another just as Yubaba and Zeniba do. There is a kind of nimbleness, for lack of a better term, at play in many of these stories from Japan (hence the limitless forms that Santa can take in Nontan’s world) that we in the west are just beginning to experience.

About a decade ago, I stumbled across another book—a good complement to The Writer’s Journey. The Japanese Psyche: Major Motifs in the Fairy Tales of Japan, by Hayao Kawai, examines Japanese fairy tales, and how so many of their ideas and themes feel at once familiar, but strange to western audiences. Kawai is often referred to as the first Japanese psychologist who trained as a Jungian analyst. But when Kawai returned to Japan from Switzerland, he realized that some of the “rules” of interpreting mythology and dreams didn’t exactly conform to Japanese culture. What was more, stories didn’t adhere to expected western concepts of structure.

Kawai addressed the idea that reality is in fact slippery, in the Yubaba-Zeniba way. He writes: “Reality consists of countless layers. Only in daily life does it appear as a unity with a single layer, which will never threaten us. However, deep layers can break through to the surface before our eyes. Fairy tales have much to tell us in this regard.” What lies behind this layer of reality? If you have any familiarity with Murakami’s work, then you know he often explores the reality behind reality; it is perhaps not a coincidence that Kawai is said to have been a great friend to Murakami. Western writers have started to adopt the Murakami/Kawai style of storytelling. Someone like David Mitchell, who lived in Japan, puts a similar twisting and turning through time and reality to use in his book Cloud Atlas.

Kawai also introduces the concept of “the aesthetic solution.” In western fairy tales, Kawai notes, stories often resolve with a conquest, or with a wedding. Examples are numerous: Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White, etc. But in Japanese fairy tales, Kawai says, there is rarely this kind of union. Frequently, stories resolve with “an aesthetic solution.” And by aesthetic, Kawai specifically means images from nature. As an example, he opens his book with a discussion of the fairy tale, “The Bush Warbler.”

A woodcutter is out in the woods, when he comes across a mansion he has never seen before. He encounters a beautiful woman, who invites him into her house and asks him to look after the property while she is out—if he promises not to look in any of the interior rooms. As soon as the woman leaves, the woodcutter breaks his promise. He wanders around and finds three beautiful women sweeping. They see him, and glide away “like birds.” Alone again, the woodcutter begins to steal intricate, gilded objects. At one point, he picks up a nest with three eggs. He drops the nest and the eggs break. The beautiful woman returns to the house and chastises the woodcutter for “killing her three daughters.” She transforms into a warbler, and flies away. When the woodcutter comes to, he finds himself completely alone in the woods, with none of the pilfered objects in his possession and with only a memory of beauty.

This kind of ending, says Kawai, is not uncommon in Japan. In a western fairy tale, the woodcutter might have become a prince, and ultimately married the beautiful and mysterious woman. But not so in Japan. Instead, the story is resolved by “the aesthetic solution,” in which the hero is left to contemplate his own existence against the backdrop of a beautiful image. Or maybe I am being too western here. Maybe his existence doesn’t matter. Maybe all we are left with is the beautiful image.

Kawai notes: “In Japan, especially in ancient times, aesthetic value and ethical value were inseparable. Beauty is probably the most important element in understanding Japanese culture. In fairy tales too, beauty places a great role in the construction of the stories.” In fact: “the Japanese fairy tale tells us that the world is beautiful, and that beauty is complete only if we accept the existence of death.” There are reams and reams that can be written about this single observation, but I’ll just say here that it’s a critical piece of understanding so many of the great Japanese novels, like Junichiro Tanizaki’s masterpiece, The Makioka Sisters, and Yukio Mishima’s tetralogy. It’s also something to keep in mind when you read, as you should, what I think is possibly the bravest and most important work being done right now in introducing Japanese literature to western readers: I’m talking here about Monkey Business, the literary magazine edited by Roland Kelts, and produced in partnership with A Public Space. Even if you read just these stories, you’ll get a sense of how our modern world is at once familiar, but might look and feel slightly different to people with a completely different cultural base than our own.

It’s been a while since I read The Writer’s Journey, but I doubt very much it contains “observing a beautiful image but being left with nothing” as “the Reward” for the hero’s quest. And yet, perhaps it is indeed precisely the kind of knowledge a true seeker needs to learn, and accept as she ages. Perhaps it is the bravest lesson of all.

* * * *

Some say that Hollywood stories are becoming too international, and are obliterating other concepts of what a story can and should be. If our stories reflect who we are as people, this would be a shame, because I think other insights—that beauty is an ethical value—are as interesting and valuable as all the metaphoric meanings that come with slaying a dragon. (And incidentally, if you run a low-res writing program, I have a whole syllabus I could teach at your university based on the themes in this essay).

In the forward to the third edition of The Writer’s Journey, even Vogler acknowledges that… [more]
stoytelling  us  japan  thewest  writing  fairytales  mariemutsukimockett  stories  spiritedaway  harukimurakami  hayaomiyazaki  studioghibli  film  movies  georgeluvas  josephcampbell  curiousgeorge  linear  nonlinear  culture  catsanta  yukiomishima  wwnorton  davidmitchell  christophervogler  animals  2016  linearity  beautyrolandkelts  apublicspace  junichirotanizaki  aesthetics 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Berlin Biennale | All Problems Can Be Illuminated; Not All Problems Can Be Solved
"“There is no technology for justice. There is only justice.”12 Ursula Franklin answered when I asked her in December 2015, what to do. I reached out because I wanted her to tell me how to act on the perspectives she brings to the traditional story of progress. As someone building internet technologies, working within this received wisdom, I wanted a recipe, something I could share with others (with you!) and throw my body into.

She was warm and generous and incredibly insightful, and she gave me no smooth answers, no simple way.

Central to our conversation was my worry about the massive surveillance capacities enabled by internet technologies and the way in which public assent to surveillance is fueled by the racism and militarism of the now eternal “War on Terror.” What could we do to combat this narrative? What could we do to change the underlying technologies such that they respect human agency and privacy?

Franklin agreed. This is a grave problem. But not a “technological” problem:

“Whether it’s heathens, witches, women, communists, whoever, the institution of an enemy as a political tool is inappropriate. The only solution is an insistence on a civilized democratic society. A civilized democratic society combats this and the wish of an authority to collect personal information on citizens and their activities and loyalties. Whether it’s done by spying, by bribing children, by workplace monitoring, by confession in the confession box of the church—the collection is the issue. The means—the technology—is secondary. The problem is a problem of authoritarian power. And at the root of this problem is the issue of justice, and justice is political.”

While justice can be understood, can be felt, there is no template to follow, or checklist to work through for ensuring a just outcome. The requirements are humility, a respect for context, and a willingness to listen to the most marginalized voices. Let these define the basic requirements of whatever you do. You must “put yourself in the position of the most vulnerable, in a way that achieves a visceral gut feeling of empathy and perspective—that’s the only way to see what justice is.”

Understanding justice, honoring those most vulnerable and including them as authors of any plan that impacts them, is a necessary starting place. But the problems associated with our current technologies won’t be solved by tweaking gears or redesigning mechanisms. A roadmap that centers on justice is only the first step. “For a very long time gadgets and machinery have been anti-people. If one wants to get away from the anti-people component, then you don’t argue technology as much as you argue capitalism.” Even with a view of what justice would look like and could be, attempts at radical change will, of course, be repulsed by powerful actors who benefit richly from the unjust status quo. Political change must be a part of the equation.

This isn’t a frenzied call for revolution. The bigger the scale, the bigger the vision for just change, the more difficult it will be to “get it through” a system in which power is aligned against justice (and, of course, the more difficult it will be to truly understand this vision’s vast impact on vulnerable populations and thus ensure it really supports justice.) Not that working to build practices and plans isn’t worthwhile—it is incredibly worthwhile. But you’re unlikely to have much real impact if you start with a grand announcement. “To proceed in a hostile world,” Franklin suggests, “call it an experiment. Admit that you don’t know how to do it, but ask for space and peace and respect. Then try your experiment, quietly.” In conditions not conducive to success, situate yourself out of the spotlight and proceed subtly, humbly, and be willing to downplay expectations while new forms incubate.

“My favorite word is an old Quaker term, ‘scrupling,’ used as an activity,” Franklin begins, addressing how to approach the vastness of the political and social problems we were discussing. “It comes out of the anti-slavery movement, originally. People would get together to ‘scruple,’ that is, discuss and debate a common problem, something they had scruples about—say, justice—for which they did not have a solution. This is scrupling, and this is something you and your friends can do.”

Gather and talk. Empathize and listen. Don’t chase the spotlight, and accept that some problems are big, and difficult, and that what you’re good at may not fix them. These are not the ways of charismatic executives and flash-bang inventors. These are not instructions for entrepreneurial success. These won’t produce bigger faster newer ways of doing things.

Her parting words were meant to comfort me. “For your own sanity, you have to remember that not all problems can be solved. Not all problems can be solved, but all problems can be illuminated. If the eggs are scrambled, they’re scrambled. You can’t unscramble them. All you can possibly do is cook them and share them with somebody.”"
ursulafranklin  justice  technology  meredithmeredith  2016  efficiency  compliance  listening  empathy  progress  racism  militarism  surveillance  waronterror  democracy  society  humility  inclusivity  inclusion  vulnerability  radicalchange  power  statusquo  politics  scrupling  conversation  problemsolving  jacquesellul  capitalism  consumerism  innovation  quakers  systems  interrelationships  systemsthinking  complexity  culture  materials  art  mindset  organization  procedures  symbols  orthodoxy  luddism  occupywallstreet  ows  resistance  disruption  speed  humanism  science  scientism  legibility  elitism  experts  authority  privilege  experience  civilization  authoritarianism  socialjustice  revolution  peace  spotlight  hardproblems  success 
july 2016 by robertogreco
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