It was the end of my summer season working Glacier Bay National Park, which puts it sometime circa 2012 or 2013. I decided to visit a bit of southeast Alaska, including Sitka, and while in Sitka I stayed at a pretty rad little hostel. I was told that the little group of guests would be watching a film that night, and so I joined the merry band. It was a rather odd forum for film viewing. We all sat in the hallway, awkwardly leaning up against the walls or lounging on pillows, contorting our bodies every which way in order to view the projector screen that was set up at the end of the hallway, in the door that led to the porch. And so it was that I watched Cloud Atlas, for the first time. And like many fans of the film, I knew I would have to see it again. And again, and again, etc.
On the surface, the novel Beloved seems like literature that makes us more aware of the brutality of slavery — the physical and emotional abuses, the violence, and the dehumanization. It is, all of these, of course, but I think that what sets Toni Morrison’s novel apart, and what has earned her the well-deserved international acclaim she has achieved, is that she goes deeper, to really get under our skin, as it were. For me, reading Beloved made me acutely aware of the color of my skin. This is perhaps as good as it gets, when it comes to fiction writing, because Beloved forces the reader to confront themselves in relation to skin color and in relation to the brutality of racism, both past and present. Morrison does all this simpy by being a great writer, by putting the reader there, right there in the middle of it all.
I’m looking forward to Yuval Harari’s new book, set to be released this August. I’m a big fan of Sapiens, and I thought that this quote (from Harari’s forthcoming book) was worth passing along: “We have a global ecology, a global economy and a global science – but we are still stuck with only national politics,” he adds. “To have effective politics we must either deglobalise the ecology, the economy or the march of science – or we must globalise our politics.” In other words, the nation-state is out of date. Is nationalism one of the last (desperate) gasp of tribal politics in the modern era? Of capitalism? For me, Harari always raises very relevant and speculative questions. Source: Yuval Noah Harari: Brexit will not halt drive to ‘human unification’ | Culture | The Guardian
John Oliver had a fantastic bit on taxes, and I meant to post it on April 15th. I forgot, somehow, but then resolved to post it anyway, albeit a few days late. Now we are well into May, and I realize that I completely spaced this post. So even though this post may not have the same punch as it does on tax day, when we lament the amount of money that we have to pay to fund Trump’s increased security needs or Jeff Sessions’ quixotic renewal of the absurd “war on drugs,” it’s still worth taking a look.
Wisdom on unity and diversity, in the struggle for civil rights, by Audre Lorde, Learning from the 60s February 1982: The 60s were characterized by a heady belief in instantaneous solutions. They were vital years of awakening, of pride, and of error. The civil rights and Black power movements rekindled possibilities for disenfranchised groups within this nation. Even though we fought common enemies, at times the lure of individual solutions made us careless of each other. Sometimes we could not bear the face of each other’s differences because of what we feared those differences might say about ourselves. As if everybody can’t eventually be too Black, too white, too man, too woman. But any future vision which can encompass all of us, by definition, must be complex and expanding, not easy to achieve. The answer to cold is heat, the answer to hunger is food. But there is no simple monolithic solution to racism, to sexism, to homophobia. There is only the conscious focusing within each of my days to move against them, wherever I …
Pretty much the entire Make America Great Again narrative is driven by the “American Way,” by a sense of exceptionalism and entitlement: We’re Americans, dammit and if we don’t have the highest standard of living in the world then heads are gonna roll! [Enter stage right, the orange billionaire, intent on “taking our country back” armed with his Tweets of Fire & Fury]
In his book, Invisible Man Got the Whole World Watching (2016), Mychal Denzel Smith discusses one of the skits from the classic Chapelle Show. In his Clayton Bigsby skit, Dave Chapelle brilliantly illustrates how race is a cultural construct, a fiction, a story, a mythology that creates a certain form of life. Developed circa 2007, Clayton Bigsby was one of Dave Chapelle’s most controversial skits: A Frontline investigation goes undercover seeking to come face to face with Clayton Bigsby, an author who has galvanized white supremacists everywhere with his fierce and uncompromising books on white power. Much to the shock of the Frontline journalist and the TV audience, it is discovered that Clayton Bigsby is actually black. He’s just blind and doesn’t know it.