The 1001 Tales of Indiana Josh

When people say ‘This is my baby,’ they don’t always mean a baby. Sometimes they mean a dog.

A Somali student, on what has surprised her most about the United States. (via africandogontheprairie)

I am finished.

(via dynamicafrica)

alwaystimes mean a dog

I have to keep in mind musaafer’s post when it comes to certain friends whose rhetoric jars against their political identities. The most recent example surrounds a discussion of kitsch, or those objects and trinkets considered to be cheap, tasteless reproductions of otherwise superior works of art. Apparently, kitsch is beginning to be reappropriated by young, hip crowds in an “ironic” way, with the central premise to this reclamation being, first, an acknowledgment of its inferior artistic and cultural value and, second, an acceptance of this idea as an empty signifier of separation and distance from an obfuscated “status quo” (not unlike, say, the hip consumption of PBR).

What strikes me is how kitsch has been really undertheorized (there’s been some treatment within the Frankfurt School, but very poor and sloppy), and I don’t know if many people outside of those in certain fields like material studies have really spent much time on it. Aside from its textual treatment in postmodern studies, as part of the “problem” of modernity and mass consumption (which entirely misses the point), and the criticality of consumer choices in a post-high cultural era (which smacks of liberal “consumer activist” politics), there hasn’t been much critical analysis of kitsch.

I’d argue that kitsch is an explicit cultural artifact of the working class, the purpose of which was, as I think Bordieu said, “obtaining maximum effect at minimum cost.” There’s this common misunderstanding of kitsch as cheap “forgeries” or reproductions of “originals.” Aside from completely dismissing all other commodified reproductions of art (read Walter Benjamin), the purpose of kitsch was never to be taken for an original, as a forgery might, or to exploit an elitist taste for rarity. Kitsch actually insists on an antielitist availability, and attempts to supply its consumers (primarily the poor and working class) with essentially the same kinds and qualities of beauty as those embodied in the type of artistic and cultural artifacts that have always been reserved for the bourgeoisie (historically, in terms of the development of modern kitsch, this means the Victorian aristocracy).

I think that to understand why kitsch is consistently presented in some dramatic antipodal relationship—presence/absence, high/low, real/mimetic—western epistemologies have to be interrogated using political-economic analysis, an analysis that will illuminate the persistence of kitsch from pre-modern societies that have never had bourgeois revolution or a consolidated capitalist class that disseminates and popularizes “high culture” art (say, the cultural kitsch of Neohellenic Greece) to post-modern societies that seem to struggle with the demarcation between reproductions, in general, and kitsch, in particular.

This is what strikes me as particularly interesting when it comes to kitsch: by rehashing ideas and images of the Other (whether the bourgeoisie or the “authentic past” that a particular culture might attach itself to), we hope to become them. Reclaiming kitsch as something “counter” or subversive isn’t radical or revolutionary, it’s reductive. And treating kitsch as the tasteless junk of unsophisticated cultural consumers is some elitist, classist bullshit that betrays a real lack of understanding of the purpose and presence of kitsch as an attempt to embody the sort of cultural capital that has been denied to so many.

renamonkalou:

Angawi house, Jeddah, Arabia Saudita

I will have an undergraduate class, let’s say a young white male student, politically-correct, who will say: ‘I am only a bourgeois white male, I can’t speak.’ …I say to them: ‘Why not develop a certain degree of rage against the history that has written such an abject script for you that you are silenced?’ Then you begin to investigate what it is that silences you, rather than take this very determinist position - since my skin colour is this, since my sex is this, I cannot speak… From this position, then, I say you will of course not speak in the same way about the Third World material, but if you make it your task not only to learn what is going on there through language, through specific programmes of study, but also at the same time through a historical critique of your position as the investigating person, then you will have earned the right to criticize, you be heard. When you take the position of not doing your homework - ‘I will not criticize because of my accident of birth, the historical accident’ - that is the much more pernicious position.

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (via silencedohood)
mehreenkasana:

This week’s reading recommendation list is brought to you by yours truly.
Surveillance Capitalism Monopoly-Finance Capital, the Military-Industrial Complex, and the Digital Age [x]
The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House [x]
Taming the Shrew? Choice Feminism and the Fear of Politics [x]
Islam and Politics [x]
A short film on Franz Kafka [x]
The Corporate Stranglehold on Education [x]
Lifestyle Consumerist Politics (ha!) [x]
The Color of Violence Against Women [x]
Zarb-e-Azb and the Left: On Imperialism’s Materiality [x]
Aid In Reverse: How Poor Countries Develop Rich Countries [x]
You can browse through more reading lists by viewing our TQ entries on Tanqeed’s main website. 
Image: Constantin Brâncuși, Sleeping Muse, 1910.

mehreenkasana:

This week’s reading recommendation list is brought to you by yours truly.

  • Surveillance Capitalism Monopoly-Finance Capital, the Military-Industrial Complex, and the Digital Age [x]
  • The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House [x]
  • Taming the Shrew? Choice Feminism and the Fear of Politics [x]
  • Islam and Politics [x]
  • A short film on Franz Kafka [x]
  • The Corporate Stranglehold on Education [x]
  • Lifestyle Consumerist Politics (ha!) [x]
  • The Color of Violence Against Women [x]
  • Zarb-e-Azb and the Left: On Imperialism’s Materiality [x]
  • Aid In Reverse: How Poor Countries Develop Rich Countries [x]

You can browse through more reading lists by viewing our TQ entries on Tanqeed’s main website

Image: Constantin Brâncuși, Sleeping Muse, 1910.

musaafer:

I have to constantly remind myself that people are at different stages in their political/social identity building. I often catch myself being overly critical of peers for not having entirely on point politics when, in reality, their heart is in the right place and they’ve just not had the space/experience/exposure/time/resources to refine/develop their views.

I remind myself of what it took for me to become aware in the way I am now, of the journey it took. For so many of us, it took excessive hardship to become aware - whether it be financial hardship, exposure to racism, sexual violence, abuse, illness, etc… for a majority of us, it took something that heavy to catapult us into out concerns with social justice. And this is valid. What I’m saying is that not everyone goes through that, not everyone experiences life on the same trajectory or even faces the hardships that brought us literacy in this the hard way. So they have to learn through other ways, and those take time. Our ways do, too, for that matter. I’ve said incredibly problematic things just one or two years ago and I continue to mess up. It is the patience of fellow activists, organizers, concerned social justice advocates, friends and loved ones that keeps me growing and learning. And yes, of course, it’s also the justified, righteous rage that teaches. 

I remind myself, if I were to draw out the trajectory of my identity formation and of how I got to all the labels I take on today, it’d be a long, convoluted mess. For others, it’s very straight forward - “born to Afghan parents in America -> Afghan-American,” for example. It’s important for me to remember that others haven’t had the place/need to develop in this way and that that isn’t a bad thing; after all, I wouldn’t wish on anyone to go through what some of us did in order to be where some of us are. 

I’m not saying that we owe those around us education; it’s a micro-aggression to demand that. I’m telling myself that on the long run, it’ll take a less heavy toll on the heart if I learn to not write people off immediately, to see in them what those who taught me saw in me. I can’t keep writing people off and wonder why no one’s down with the cause. People come from different places and learn in different ways and while it may not be on me to teach everyone everything, it is on me to be patient with at least some, as they take time to learn, grow and understand. 

If one more person comes up to me to tell me that I look like Ben Affleck

Adventures at the river with Bandit & Tulum

didacticspastic said: Who are some of your fav theorists? And who does Bandit like? ;)

I always hate answering questions about favorites because it’s so difficult for me to answer; I feel like the question is fraught with pre-existing complexes. So, in lieu of offering up my “favorites,” I’ll just mention who I’m reading now and really enjoy.

In the Frankfurt School, I really enjoy Herbert Marcuse right now. I haven’t read too much by him yet, but I really enjoy his “One-Dimensional Man” and I think his expansion of Marx’s concept of alienation in capitalism is really useful. Also in the Frankfurt School is Habermas, who I’m rereading a bit and can’t help but think how much of a powerhouse he is.

In postructuralism I’ve really been getting into Chantal Mouffe lately. She’s really interesting and does great work in hegemony, building off of Gramsci, and has compelling ideas on pluralism and agnostic democracy that merit further exploration, I think. I’ve also been reading some Benedict Anderson and find his Marxist approach to nationalism really great. Most of these theorists sort of culminate in a spiral around my own interests in the hegemonic structure of language and the ways in which it establishes identities (specifically nationalist identities in the Arab world).

Again, I don’t know if I’d count all, or any, of these as “favorites” necessarily, but I’m really enjoying their work and getting a lot out of it at the moment.

I haven’t asked Bandit who his favorite theorists are, but he’s over on the leather couch right now with a copy of Walter Benjamin’s “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” and he often rambles on about “authenticity,” and something about the “alienation of self” as exhibited through the aesthetic pleasure of witnessing our own destruction, so like.

Bob Dylan | Moonshiner

Let me eat when I am hungry
Let me drink when I am dry
A dollar when I am hard up

Religion when I die

The whole world’s a bottle
And life’s but a dram
When the bottle gets empty
It sure ain’t worth a damn