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Archive for the ‘pop culture’ Category

This is a very satisfying article on an interview with Wim Wenders and Mary Zournazi in The Saturday Papers.

The notion of space is a fundamental ingredient in both Wenders’ and Zournazi’s notions of peace, explored through the connections created by – and between – people. In film, allowing the watcher to see what the other is seeing provides a gentle push to take into account and perhaps even momentarily assume the point of view of the other person.

Wenders believes that the true acknowledgement of another’s existential space negates the potential for conflict. “As soon as you consider someone’s space and you see that space around him or her, you have in a way eliminated the possibilities of war or violence, because respecting someone’s space almost pulls the carpet out from under any violent act.”

I suggest to both authors that there is a striking absence of opinion or judgement in the book. After an uncomfortably long silence, Wenders says: “An opinion is a violent act very often. An opinion is superimposed and very often neglects or denies the space or the right to a space that person has. You have an opinion of someone because he is a foreigner or belongs to that group or that group and immediately that person’s void of their own space. It obliterates them.”

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Portrait of John Howard by George W. Bush.

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Portraits of lapdogs by George W. Bush.

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From Katha Pollitt in The Nation with “Why do so many leftists want sex work to be the new normal?”:

It’s one thing to say sex workers shouldn’t be stigmatized, let alone put in jail. But when feminists argue that sex work should be normalized, they accept male privilege they would attack in any other area. They accept that sex is something women have and men get (do I hear “rape culture,” anyone?), that men are entitled to sex without attracting a partner, even to the limited extent of a pickup in a bar, much less pleasing or satisfying her. As Grant says, they are buying a fantasy—the fantasy of the woman who wants whatever they want (how johns persuade themselves of this is beyond me). But maybe men would be better partners, in bed and out of it, if they couldn’t purchase that fantasy, if sex for them, as for women, meant finding someone who likes them enough to exchange pleasure for pleasure, intimacy for intimacy. The current way of seeing sex work is all about liberty—but what about equality?

From Melissa Gira Grant in The Nation with “Let’s call sex work what it is: work”:

When we say that sex work is service work, we don’t say that just to sanitize or elevate the status of sex workers, but also to make plain that the same workers who are performing sex work are also performing nonsexual service work. In her study of Rust Belt strippers published in Policing Pleasure: Sex Work, Policy, and the State in Global Perspective, Susan Dewey observed that the vast majority of the dancers—all but one—at one club in upstate New York had worked outside the sex industry, and “many had left intermittently for low-wage, service-sector work elsewhere before returning with the recognition that they preferred the topless bar with its possibility of periodic windfalls from customers.” For the dancers who Dewey surveyed, it was the work outside of the sex industry that was “exploitative, exclusionary, and without hope for social mobility or financial stability.”

 

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I have a co-written article with the very clever Lori Day in the Huffington Post today about the four reasons why parents buy into the culture of gender stereotyping.

 

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Oh you know I do love to talk about the insidious rise of individualism and how it comes at the expense of collectivist action.  This is my latest article for Daily Life.

But now viewed through the lens of individualism the sexist, too, can have a deeply personal story. He made a mistake, he broke a rule, he’s sorry if what he did offended you. He’s actually a kind of victim here, too, he wants you to know. Accusations of sexism, you see, are graded on the steepest of curves so virtually no-one, except the least sympathetic of villains, qualifies as an actual sexist. All other instances of sexism, watered down by individualism, are thus eventually transformed into reasonable actions and understandable views and your inability as a woman to overcome them is simply a character flaw of yours.

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I wish so much that I had been able to buy Miriam Elia’s book, We Go to the Art Gallery before it was stomped on by Penguin books. I do love a bit of mothering and nihilism in art galleries, you know.

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Thanks to Penelope D. for the link.

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From here. Thanks to Leena for the link.

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Really good article at The Toast about the evolution of Internet linguistics.

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You have to love art that is this big with this many breasts.

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And maternity and breastfeeding can still alarm. From the artist, Patricia Piccinini: “I didn’t think people would react against her as much as they have, but I think that’s interesting about us. We’re suspicious of difference, and that’s interesting in itself.

I think that she’s got a very beautiful and benign presence. She’s very nurturing. She’s a maternal creature and I think that they’re qualities that are missing in the mainstream and representations in the mainstream”.

 

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.. to enjoy more difficult art again. Ben Marcus with “Why experimental fiction threatens to destroy publishing, Jonathan Franzen, and life as we know it”.

What interests me about this kind of writing is its desire to discover meaning where we might not think to find it, as if it’s burning entirely new synaptical pathways, and this is a very different pleasure than the kind I might get from narrative realism. It’s a poetic aim that believes in the possibilities of language to create ghostly frames of sense, or to prove to me that rational sense might be equally unstable, and I can get a literally visceral thrill when I read it, because I happen to actually enjoy language.

Although Stein’s individual sentences do not require excessive deciphering, the connections she attempts between them are far more challenging, mysterious, and wide-ranging than the transitions Franzen uses in his narrative realist mode, which generally builds linearly on what has gone before, subscribes to cinematic verisimilitude, and, when it’s not narrating, slaps mortar onto an already stable fictional world. I find a terrific amount of complexity to be possible in Franzen’s approach, and it frequently comes in the form of characterization. Characters are built to be intense webs of plausible contradiction, and their often conflicting desires, which can be emotionally self-destructive, war within them to produce dramatic tension. When it’s done well, this can be immensely satisfying to read. But the notion that this is the premier paradigm for art made with language is like suggesting that painting should have ceased after Impressionism.

As much as I enjoy Stein’s more slippery work, I understand why Tender Buttons is not popular, but that doesn’t discredit it artistically, nor does it make me believe that Stein wrote to create a cloud of difficulty that would intimidate readers into thinking her work was important.

This is why I made that resolution.

(My resolution this year is to live on a budget. From big thoughts little thoughts grew).

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