Why I cannot allow myself to keep things in confidence

sticker ontology II

“Fundamentally, many folks evoke keeping confidence as another way of talking about secret-keeping. Suppressing critical comments or making them in private one-on-one settings where there are no witnesses are deemed more appropriate ways to handle dissent.” This is the struggle of those that find struggle within there institutions. Social manners become a way of perpetuating the trends of the majority. It will therefore never seem appropriate when revolt exists. We currently live in an age that suffers from an infection of “sameness”.

We may hear polarizing views about a situational topic but when it comes to taste, style, music, movies, and in general a view on cultural criticism we are infected with a kind of global universality that is frightening. So when there are objecting views on capitalism, Pseudo-democracy (a state the America finds itself in), or a number of normalcies, one can find themselves against the social force of the majority. This is why confidence mustn’t be kept when addressing the controversial. Because issues that lie at the center of institutions that do not emerge will have no need to be addressed. They generate a contentment amongst the majority.

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Why I’m not done mourning

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I recently looked at the face of a relative passed. He looked like me. Kinda goofy in his face. Confident beyond his appearance. Smiling only slightly. The image is greyscale. It is colored only by the worn page that has turned a peach color over the years. At times I think of his funeral. Or more correctly I imagine it, pretend it, re-enact, act, live it. What good is the life forgotten so easily? How many of our dark brothers and sisters have left us peacefully or by pain. When will we remember them like we remember so many others. When will we see statues in the street of our brothers and sisters? (Not of representations of any single body but of the soul that ties a people) When will I go to school and see brown faces surround me? When will report back to the brown man? When can we bury Emmett till? When will his grave rest in peace? Sometimes I get asked why I am so angry, or emotional, or adamant. To them who try to twist the suffering of black folk into confirmation of black frailty I shake my head, and hang my hands down low.

“Black Panthers”

I am immediately dubious of the black image presented to me in popular media. The first thought when I heard the name of the movie was that it was selling black to black people ( Or more specifically selling black protest to black people). But there were many parts of the movie that I enjoyed and found quite progressive. The role of women in the film was particularly exciting to see. It depicted strong (not infallible) and smart women playing crucial parts in the film. It was amazing to see armies of women fighting male oppression, fighting stereotypes of female intelligence, and investigate the issues in patriarchy in general.

Though I have one large hang up about the film. Michael Jordan’s character resembled everything I hated about the black image in movies. He was the only African American (I realize in the film he was a direct descendant of the fictitious African country wakanda but for semantic purposes he is American because that is where he lived his life). And he was also the most belligerent, violent, morally dubious character of the film. Jordans character first set a tone of what the filmmakers thought black people felt about there situations. I think it was amazing to point out the oppression of black Americans but the lifestyle Michael Jordan created for himself was not about restitution but about the perceived black image. Violent, victims of there circumstance, destined to succumb to a life of violence that already surrounds them. Now many African Americans face issues of violence but this character flattened the conversation into a single problematic man. He was a mass murderer, essentially using his black rage to punish anyone who crossed him. For a movie called black panthers it brought up interesting assumption about black militance.

Why I can never get rid of these cups

About a year ago I was setting up for an art show. I had soda and cups for people to enjoy while looking at the art. a few weeks after that I stumbled across the zero waste movement. I was so new to the issue of waste in the world that I was astounded. I was blown away. And I found a new need to be hyper conscious of my spending and consumption. So I went to my house and began evaluating my habits. Then I came to these cups. They are really quite stunning. They have this sleek plastic and white strip that lines the top allowing for the most enjoyable root-beer float experience. But I realized that they are just beautiful pieces of garbage waiting to be disposed. They live to be sacrificed. after a chug from there shiny vessel they are then sent to the no place of empty solo cups. They are either left in heeping alters to spend the rest of their long long life, or they will be burnt and their fumes will travel across the atmosphere. They had no chance in this world to do anything but destroy and be destroyed.

The Dark Web

The internet is saturated with image, the black image. The internet exists as the pedagogy of modernity. It is the apparatus by which we confirm truth. As we google our consciousness we check the virtual to confirm the real. The contemporary internet is about branding, virtual identity, and the ubiquity of information. The utopian internet that allows for the free-flowing thoughts of all comes at the cost of black self-ownership. The internet is now a place where the melanin in the thumbs up emoji makes you black. In the age of the meme we experience the cultural readymade in abundance. After the discovery of conceptualism, the medium became dominated by the idea. But in the age of the internet the visual becomes content-less, putting the medium back on top. Information becomes collage, and dada becomes scripture. How can you win against art that’s just about discussion? Are we now slaves sold off as intellectual property?

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Setting the precedent for appropriation of the black image

Picasso and Duchamp, setting the precedent for appropriation of the black image.

I think that I am always nervous to see the black image anywhere. I worry if the depictions of the black body are either trying to sell black to me or to perpetuate “Black Death Spectacle”. What can we do? In art I think about the attempt of an other group to empathize with a minority group and how those interactions are always at best lack luster, at worst they are pandering/degrading. Why are we as a human race of artists so bad at creating respectful meaningful visual culture concerning minority peoples?

Well my first thought is Picasso. And my second thought is Duchamp.

Picasso was not the sole reason for issues of visual culture but he exists as an example of the male genius that scares me. As a studio art major, often the only artists people can even name are Picasso and Van Gogh. Picasso has become a monolithic figure of what modern art consists of to the broader world. But the reason I feel that he perpetuates bad visual practice is not his life as a misogynist, and narcissist, but his astheticising of African culture as a way of creating interest in his work. Now, he was building off of a long tradition of orientalism. But instead of orientalism, a practice that projected a kind of lifestyle on any peoples that seemed exotic, Picasso removed the aesthetic style from its cultural context. And instead of the spirit of elevating the African forms that he saw, Picasso was rebranding them as his own.

Duchamp, I think is due a lot of credit. His work is prolific in how we think about where the art lies in a piece. The fountain has got to be one of the most referenced works of art in the modern and contemporary world as game changer in conceptualism. Recently strong evidence has been found showing that Duchamp was not the source of the iconic urinal piece. According to a Huffington post article there is strong evidence that would place artist Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven * as the true origin of the brilliant idea that changed contemporary thought. She was known for her eccentricities. But the greatest irony Duchamp created was not that an object out of utilitarian context could become art, but that the real readymade was the work of women artists that could be put on display and taken credit for.

And the issue today is that we exist in a visual culture that is built on these ideologies. Not cubism, conceptualism, but of the cultural readymade- A way of life or suffering that is exotic and exciting. And that rather than trying to understand all of our roles as both contributors of and fighters for people other than us, artists now take the stance of observers making work that only exists to challenge our ideas of the present. But in reality these works of art (art using involving the forms and cultures of others) often stop short of helping people they appropriate to just helping the artist.

Much of this stems from the idea of what cool means or what cool comes from. Cool is on the fringes of what is popular and what is unknown. Like in the essay “white negro” we find the ideology of the white man of the past. The hipster was the white counterculturist who dug into the obscurities of black entertainment and culture. They would go to jazz clubs and drink in the soul. It is rooted in a desire to be inclusive and accepting but may manifest in a disregard for the context that created black culture (wether that be religion, tradition, hope for a better future, and the intangible nature of soul). I am thinking of cultural tourism, or even virtual tourism. How I would define the term is when you read about, live briefly in, watch a documentary on as particular culture and single out a portion of it that is intriguing.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/jane-chafin/duchamps-urinal_b_1472735.html

Black Criticism and the growing need for it

The growing need for black cultural criticism.

I was recently in my philosophy class thinking about the role of multiple perspectives in learning. I am almost four fifths of the way through the semester and in my introduction to philosophy course we have not named a single person of color. From aquinas, Descartes, Hobbes, it all played the picture of a reality framed through the lease of people who are not like. I do study them with appreciation no doubt to their additions to educational rigor and scrutiny but I wonder how they continue to affect me in all of my interactions. I wonder if being told that If we are truly self interested we would be moral. But I find that maybe that’s because for white people being self interested has usually paid off.

This series will be a groupings of my colloquial thoughts about culture. For good and bad this will be the platform for my always undereducated opinion. In a world of flooding opinions, here is another drop in that sea of hopes.