Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!!!

California is great, hiking everyday (10 miles+) and making the most of the beaches, valleys, mountains, deserts (my only regret is that El Oso isn't in town, so that I could meet him and let him know how much I appreciate his writing and pictures--Oso when I get back to blogging I'll have pictures for you to remind you of our homeplace).

I'll start Dialogic up in the first weeks of January, but for now I am enjoying being disconnected (very refreshing and healthy)... I will have a lot to say when I get back as I have been spending this time in my homeplace becoming myself (or re-acquainting myself with my selves...) through the places and people that formed and shaped me. I have always had a strong belief in the power of place (environment) and this trip has re-enforced that conception/belief...

No matter where we are, what we are doing, the first positive political/spiritual step is to make our places open, creative, experimental and stimulating (hello Lexington I am coming back--we have work to do ;) Resist the fearful/reactionary impulse of those that seek to close down and control our environment/s and those that fear our jousissance (that wild creative ecstatic impulse to fully enjoy life--life as experiment and ecstasy and enlightenment, as opposed to the impulse that seeks to control our desires for profit and status)...

You know the last posts on this site were my way of coming to terms with a very dark year, now you will have to excuse me as I embrace my natural optimistic/idealistic nature. I spent most of this year listening to people, and observing them, I was lost, and wanted some direction... from my earliest days of learning I had always used the socratic method of learning... asking questions when you don't have any answers, seeking wisdom through forming questions, and testing one's environment (in its diverse manifestatations--real and virtual, as if these terms could be concrete and not porous). One thing I learned was that few people really listen, so, as a New Year's Eve wish I would encourage everyone to take some time and quiet your own voice (inner and outer--and the mediated voices we use to supplement our own voice) and listen (shhh) to what is important to you (beings and places) ... take some time to get out of your everyday routine... if you are so fortunate to be loved and loving in return, surprise that lover with innovation and creativity... likewise remake your environment ... resist the impulse to be a wage slave (think of your favorite SF robot) and break out of the confining roles that have been forced upon you from childhood... take chances, embrace randomness... surprise people ... trust me it is stimulating, it is erotic, it is loaded with possibilities... if only we would dare to imagine something different!!!

Thanks for all of the kind responses to the previous post (BW, I have been staying offline and will reply to your email when I am back to work--sorry for the delay)

How do we conceive of a poetics/politics of love (radical in the sense of you should love being alive and being yourself--you should also value this in your family, friends and lovers--love never seeks to control)?

Happy New Year comrades!!!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Closing Shop: Going to California

Visiting my hometown for the first time in five years (San Diego)... considering closing Dialogic as I'm not sure if it is really useful to me anymore. Disconnected my Internet at home...

Friday, December 15, 2006

On Finishing Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World

Seeking magic in my life and, at present, not finding it, I allowed myself to drift into a fictional derive. I use this word derive a lot because I like the idea of wandering and discovering as a form of incantation that develops insights and connections, hopefully, providing some sense of the greater scheme of things (the underlying story, not the one we are told to believe). The Situationists and their precursors used it to map the unconscious essence of built environments, but likewise we can use it in a radical gesture of exploring our imagined environments--in both cases, in ways not designated and legitimated, the power is in developing your own roadmap.

So, a week or so ago, I was heading out the door of my office and a publishing rep approached me to discuss their newest books, I stated that I had to go eat and he offered to buy, skeptical as always, but very hungry and reluctant to turn down a free lunch, I said yes, and, to my delight, KK turned out to be a writer and an intelligent, thoughtful reader. We had an amazing discussion about books, films and culture over lunch and as we walked out we noticed a used bookstore next door... hey we both said lets investigate.

I picked up Haruki Marukami's book Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. Pure chance ... I have always wanted to read one of his books, but this was the moment that I needed to read it. A data-stream operative immersed in the intrigues of information warfare seeks meaning and understanding... gestated in the hard-boiled tradition, sifted through a cyberpunk awareness, looking forward to the explosion of our information society and the continuing genetic alterations that may shift us to a posthuman state. What does it mean to lose your shadow? What unseen forces operate in our world? What is the significance of losing one's mind (literally and figuratively)? I don't want to say anything more... in case you might decide to read it (I'll loan it to you--good books should be shared).

K-Punk and Sinthome: On Blogging Identities

(Something I have been thinking about)

K-Punk and I
by K-Punk

It doesn't strike me that, in this respect, blogging is different from any other type of published writing. As Borges established in his masterly micro-vignette on the irreducibly gothic character of writing, 'Borges and I', even if one writes in one's own name, writing itself produces a semblable, a doppelganger which both is and is not oneself. (This is quite different from what Steve describes: the deliberate assumption of a wholly invented persona in MOOs, etc.)

Perhaps writing - or more specifically, writing about oneself - only reveals the inherently split nature of the subject: the 'the other one, the one called Borges ... the one things happen to' in 'Borges and I' is the subject of the statement, the Borges who observes that 'I do not know which of us has written this page' is the subject of the enunciation. Any use of the pronoun 'I' will always exposes this split, this spaltung.

I make no special effort to conceal my surname online; the reason I do not use it is more because I dislike, even loathe it, than because I want to keep it a secret. I loathe my name because it is mine and also because it is not mine; it is at once too intimate and seems to have no connection with me. Perhaps because the name is quite common, it never seems to fit me, or fit me alone. Nevertheless, when I see the name, I always feel a peculiar sense of shame.

(I'm reminded here of the Tom Ripley of The Talented Mr Ripley. If 'Tom hated being Tom', it's in part because he has to use his own name again. Yet one of the surprises of the later Ripley novels is that Tom does not end up using another name, even it would be a straightforward task for a master forger and mimic like him to permanently assume someone else's identity. Tom makes a name for himself; but more significantly, he makes a - new, sophisticated, stylish, charming - self for his name.)

The pseudonym facilitates the escape from biography. I never chose the name 'Mark k-punk'; I started being called it for obvious reasons (the name of the site, plus the fact that I post here only under the name 'Mark'), but I embrace it and now use it because it seems more like my True Name than the name on my birth certificate ever will. It suggests a performance, but not one that is false. Someone wrote to me recently saying that they had seen a film and immediately asked themselves 'what would k-punk think?' Of course, I ask myself such questions.

To Read the Entire Post

What's In a Name
by Sinthome
Larval Subjects

It seems to me that this reminder of the split status of the subject is crucial for discussions of virtual engagements. The standard story has it that the net allows us to playfully create our own identity however we like, without the usual constraints that attend our day to day subjectivity. However, this sort of split is already constitutive of subjectivity as such: I am perpetually split between my imaginary imago that functions as an ideal ego for an ego ideal (a particular gaze from which we see ourselves as lovable) and my unconscious desire. Indeed, Lacan describes the imago structuring the ego as not only a semblable, but as a frozen statue constitutive of frustration itself, as I am never able to coincide with this ideal image of what I'd like to be. Between the lived body that farts and belches and moves in a less than graceful way and the body-image constitutive of the ego, there is always a disadequation or gap such that the imaginary is itself split or fissured, generating frustration and a perpetual remainder. Are not our net personae precisely such statues?

To Read the Entire Response

I am laughing and I am mystified...

I think I want more from life than it is willing to give me at the moment. I want some magic, transcendent experiences, epiphanies...

I feel somewhat at peace with myself (OK, there is turmoil, but not the self-castigating defeatist kind), just there is this longing for something more.

When I used to body surf in the ocean when I was young there would come a point where an offshore storm would create massive waves and fierce riptides--I was terrified of the force of these waters, but I was also drawn to them, as if there was something in there for me to discover more about my nature. Sometimes there would be one wave (or a series of them) that would pummel me and knock the breath out of me, rolling me about on the ocean floor, I would desperately dig my hands into the sandy bottom, seeking anything that I could hold onto until this fearsome force would pass, while it would continue to thrash me about and hold me down to the point where I would think that I would never recover, that this was it, I wasn't going to recover (I almost drowned twice)... until almost miraculously it would pass over me and I would spring up from the ocean floor and launch my body into the air and gulp down the precious life giving air. I would laugh... laugh at my fear, laugh at the awesome force of the world, and laugh because once again I survived... mystified at my weakness and surprised by my strength...

That is how I feel right now... the past year was one of those waves and I have just come back to the surface. I'm laughing for all of those reasons and I am mystified ...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Video and Reports on the Sean Bell Police Shooting in New York City

EXCLUSIVE...Surveillance Film Shows Police, Passengers Diving For Cover as Bullets in Sean Bell Shooting Hit Train Station *

In a Democracy Now! broadcast exclusive, we air for the first time surveillance footage connected to the shooting of Sean Bell. The video from the Port Authority's Jamaica Avenue Air Train station reveals that one of the bullets fired by the five cops at Sean Bell and his friends narrowly missed striking a civilian and two Port Authority patrolmen who were standing on the station's elevated platform.


* "It's a Witch Hunt, They Have No Evidence" - Father of Man Arrested in NYPD Dragnet Over Sean Bell Shooting *

A major march is planned for Saturday to protest the death of Sean Bell - the man gunned down in a hail of 50 police bullets. We speak with Bishop Erskine Williams whose son was rounded up in the days after Bell shooting on a $25 summons, questioned and threatened by police.


The Daily Show: Goodbye Cruel War--Rummy's Farewell

To watch Goodbye Cruel War

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


My student writing about the PostSecret project states:

Through these postcards I was allowed a window into the innermost desires, thoughts, and feelings of the stony-faced strangers I saw all around me. Suddenly, the uptight-looking businesswoman became a sexual deviant, the guy walking around with a pissed off look on his face was really just trying to figure out why nobody liked him, and the quiet student was secretly wondering why her father didn't love her.

An online, confessional, anonymous postcard art site:


Info and Caveat about Mailing In Your Secrets

Its a Joy Division Day

Dead Souls

Someone take these dreams away,
That point me to another day,
A duel of personalities,
That stretch all true realities.

That keep calling me,
They keep calling me,
Keep on calling me,
They keep calling me.

Where figures from the past stand tall,
And mocking voices ring the halls.
Imperialistic house of prayer,
Conquistadors who took their share.

That keep calling me,
They keep calling me,
Keep on calling me,
They keep calling me.

Calling me, calling me, calling me, calling me.

They keep calling me,
Keep on calling me,
They keep calling me,
They keep calling me.

On Evil: An Interview Alain Badiou

On Evil: An Interview with Alain Badiou,
by Christopher Cox and Molly Whalen,
Cabinet Magazine Online, Issue 5, Winter 2001/02

An excerpt:

The idea of the self-evidence of Evil is not, in our society, very old. It dates, in my opinion, from the end of the 1960s, when the big political movement of the 60s was finished. We then entered into a reactive period, a period that I call the Restoration. You know that, in France, "Restoration" refers to the period of the return of the King, in 1815, after the Revolution and Napoleon. We are in such a period. Today we see liberal capitalism and its political system, parlimentarianism, as the only natural and acceptable solutions. Every revolutionary idea is considered utopian and ultimately criminal. We are made to believe that the global spread of capitalism and what gets called "democracy" is the dream of all humanity. And also that the whole world wants the authority of the American Empire, and its military police, NATO.

In truth, our leaders and propagandists know very well that liberal capitalism is an inegalitarian regime, unjust, and unacceptable for the vast majority of humanity. And they know too that our "democracy" is an illusion: Where is the power of the people? Where is the political power for third world peasants, the European working class, the poor everywhere? We live in a contradiction: a brutal state of affairs, profoundly inegalitarian—where all existence is evaluated in terms of money alone—is presented to us as ideal. To justify their conservatism, the partisans of the established order cannot really call it ideal or wonderful. So instead, they have decided to say that all the rest is horrible. Sure, they say, we may not live in a condition of perfect Goodness. But we're lucky that we don't live in a condition of Evil. Our democracy is not perfect. But it's better than the bloody dictatorships. Capitalism is unjust. But it's not criminal like Stalinism. We let millions of Africans die of AIDS, but we don't make racist nationalist declarations like Milosevic. We kill Iraqis with our airplanes, but we don't cut their throats with machetes like they do in Rwanda, etc.

That's why the idea of Evil has become essential. No intellectual will actually defend the brutal power of money and the accompanying political disdain for the disenfranchised, or for manual laborers, but many agree to say that real Evil is elsewhere. Who indeed today would defend the Stalinist terror, the African genocides, the Latin American torturers? Nobody. It's there that the consensus concerning Evil is decisive. Under the pretext of not accepting Evil, we end up making believe that we have, if not the Good, at least the best possible state of affairs—even if this best is not so great. The refrain of "human rights" is nothing other than the ideology of modern liberal capitalism: We won't massacre you, we won't torture you in caves, so keep quiet and worship the golden calf. As for those who don't want to worship it, or who don't believe in our superiority, there's always the American army and its European minions to make them be quiet.

Note that even Churchill said that democracy (that is to say the regime of liberal capitalism) was not at all the best of political regimes, but rather the least bad. Philosophy has always been critical of commonly held opinions and of what seems obvious. Accept what you've got because all the rest belongs to Evil is an obvious idea, which should therefore be immediately examined and critiqued. My personal position is the following: It is necessary to examine, in a detailed way, the contemporary theory of Evil, the ideology of human rights, the concept of democracy. It is necessary to show that nothing there leads in the direction of the real emancipation of humanity. It is necessary to reconstruct rights, in everyday life as in politics, of Truth and of the Good. Our ability to once again have real ideas and real projects depends on it.

Read the Entire Interview

Inspector Lohmann: Building Invisible Comic Community Through Interdimensional Travel, Part 2

(To read Pt. 1, courtesy of Scruggs)

Building Invisible Comic Community Through Interdimensional Travel, Part 2
Inspector Lohmann


Economics, as a distinct "science" that studies the "production and distribution of goods", is a branch of knowledge comparable to theology in that its object of study is the phenomenology of a particular consensual reality and nothing more. (Of course this is not to say that studying phantasms doesn't have real-life effects: many have been slaughtered in the name of long dead gods.) [For the sake of being more precise, here is Pierre Bourdieu, at the beginning of his sociological extension of Polanyi: "The science called 'economics' is based on an intial act of abstraction that consists in dissociating a particular category of practices, or a particular dimension of all practice, from the social order in which all human practice is immersed." I have shorthanded this notion via a metaphoric parity that equates economics with theology.] Economics, in this light, is a religion of money, one with its own version of transubstantiation: it magically transmogrifies people's lives, and nature itself, into commodities with dollar figures. The side effect of such magic creates wondrously bizarre things, like the creation of a priest class entire professions dedicated to determining, for example, things like "morbidity" and "mortality rates" to help investors determine how to derive maximum profit from people's illness or life expectancies (eg: investing in pension funds), institutionalized bookies helping investors gamble on the lifespan of whole classes of people. This produces horrendous conflict-of-interest travesties: for example, many families find themselves in a tortuous trap between extending the money-draining life of a loved one versus the anticipation of the windfall that will arrive on the loved one's demise. Is this how life should be lived? Is this not the ultimate mockery of the bullshit transubstantiation of life into a commodity, one that gives the lie to a society that professes to value life? Is this not on the same scale as investors who amassed fortunes from the industries behind the building and running of the concentration camps?

Instead of (or, for those doubly-trapped, in addition to) serving God, we are cogs in the service of money — or, more accurately, we are cogs in the service of the monolithic institutions responsible for keeping the market mechanisms running. The Market is a tremendous fiction of religious proportions wherein our entire lives are a form of ritual worship to the system in which we find ourselves.

It wasn't always so. Polanyi provides many examples of cultures in which the economic sphere was an organically integrated part of the everyday life of the community, where traditions and mechanisms of gift-giving, reciprocity, and spoils-sharing form the bonds of community through channels of cooperation, one where status was derived from one's generosity. In fact stigmas and taboos developed towards those who were competitive and horded their riches, since such behavior was a threat to one's community because it put the selfish interest of The One above the common good.

There are other ways of living than under the thumb of Wealth Bondage, but they all involve new economic strategies. Hence the vital importance, when forming new invisible communities, in addressing economic issues in devising strategies of community formation. In fact, the need to do so is incumbent upon those who understand the importance of the situation as our system prepares to wind violently down: the sooner we find ways to form strong communal bonds the more of a chance we have to see ourselves through the coming conflapression.

Simply, the more we rely on us to take care of ourselves, the less we need to rely on them and their fictional, self-destructing institutions.


As McKenzie Wark reminds us in the epigraph to this article, there is no one strategy, no one right way. Perhaps the one thing that is required is the leap of faith that will permit us to adopt a variety of strategies, which in itself requires new ways of thinking and new ways of being. Adopting such strategies will alter our everyday lives, which, because change is scary, will be daunting. But isn't a new kind of everyday life the goal? The formation of Community is simultaneously the manifestation and the means by people can control their own lives; and this occurs in proportion to which thriving, viable local economies are made possible — not in the sense of The Market, but in the communal production and exchange of goods.

This means seeking ways to create our own ventures with each other's assistance, whether locally or over great distances. We learn to seek each other's help through our ever-growing chains of trust, making use of our unique abilities and expertise. We must learn to train ourselves to seek each other out as our first option, rather than look elsewhere for what we need; we learn to seek what we need through our own community first. There's a reason all those xtian dove logos showed up in ads and yellow pages a generation ago — it was a sign that identified themselves to their community, and community members learned to seek out their own for what they needed.

We don't seek official accreditation, official credentialization (unless doing so provides needed cover). We accredit and credentialize each other. We start our own art galleries for our own artists, our own publishing ventures for our own authors; we develop our own business plans, production strategies, distribution networks; develop our own accounting strategies; become our own postal carriers.

To Read the Rest of the Post

Monday, December 11, 2006

Darren Aronofsky Initiates a Fictional Derive 2.0

OK, adopt the altered mindset of your choice, prepare yourself to open your mind to the possibilities, put on Modest Mouse's "3rd Planet"

and then read this:

NASA telescope sees black hole gulping remote star

Watch Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain (don't listen to the mundane critics who do not get this film--it is bold, unique and deep--it is to be experienced ... why are there so few filmmakers that understand that cinema should be an art form that transforms you when you experience the film):

Unwind, revisit, ponder everything while listening to more Modest Mouse (or another favorite)...

Then watch Aronofsky's Pi

Then to keep the pleasant strangeness going read Haruki Murakami's stunningly weird and beautiful Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World (my first time reading one of his books, but I will definitely be reading more--the first 30 pages I was having a hard time grasping the dual worlds he portrays in this novel, then, all of a sudden, it became so real... as if I had been there before and this was not all that strange):

"You are fearful now of losing your mind, as I once feared myself. Let me say, however, that to relinquish your self carries no shame," the Colonel breaks off and searches the air for words. "Lay down your mind and peace will come. A Peace deeper than anything you have known" (The Colonel speaking to the Man, who has lost his Shadow, at the End of the World: 318)

"First, about the mind. You tell me there is no fighting or hatred or desire in the Town. That is a beautiful dream, and I do want your happiness. But the absence of fighting or hatred or desire also means the opposites do not exist either. No joy, no communion, no love. Only where there is disillusionment and depression and sorrow does happiness arise; without the despair of loss, there is no hope. (The Shadow speaking to his Man at the End of the World: 334)

Then have a friend sense that you need some powerful meditative words to ground you:

When all the world is dark and fear surrounds me,
when my night-blind soul cries out for help,
I turn to thee.
For thou are my opening to the Light and hope.
Like a child crouching in the dark, bereft of love,
I call to thee for succor and for comfort.
How long must I remain in darkness?
How long must I suffer the darkness of others
that threatens to engulf me?
From far beyond the ultimate source of Light
comes the voice of my desire.
i lift my head but remain silent, accepting
what I cannot change,
enduring that which seeks to overthrow me.
Hope, that most beloved of messengers,
comes winging down the paths of morning.
The darkness lifts, and I see beyond the shadows
to the sun.
I look to thee and I behold my beloved.
I open the window of my battered ark.
And, like a yearning dove,
my heart flies through the opening to freedom
and the Light.

(Amy S. states that "This is the 15th path on the road to ultimate nothingness-which is the Ain Soph of the Kabbalah.")

and then delve into the 5 volumes of Alan Moore's "Promethea" series (which provides a unique fictional perspective on the development of magical thought and belief):

Anuja Mendiratta: Is Your Lipstick Safe?

Is Your Lipstick Safe?
By Anuja Mendiratta
Ms. Magazine and AlterNet


And that's why the California Safe Cosmetics Act is such a landmark achievement.

Signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last October and taking effect in 2007, it requires manufacturers to disclose product ingredients found on state or federal lists of chemicals that cause cancer or birth defects. The law further authorizes the state to investigate the health impacts of chemicals in cosmetics, and requires manufacturers to supply health-related information about their ingredients. Finally, the act enables the state to regulate products in order to assure the safety of salon workers.

California is the first state in the nation to pass such legislation, thus serving as a model for the other 49. "This is an important disclosure bill, and an important victory for women's health," says Jeanne Rizzo of the Breast Cancer Fund. "California has set the stage for states to assert regulatory authority around toxic chemicals in cosmetics, which the federal government has thus far refused to lead on."

Adds California state Sen. Carole Migden, who championed the legislation, "It is beyond belief that consumers are not being told whether or not they are putting carcinogens on their skin, in their hair or on their face. [The law] represents a triumph of grassroots efforts over money and power. Even in the face of a multinationally funded lobbying machine, common sense and the public good prevailed."

While many known toxic components have been banned in Europe from use in personal care products, similar ingredients remain legal in products marketed to the American public. Currently, the FDA does not review the ingredients in cosmetic and beauty-care products, but instead relies on self-regulation by the cosmetic industry's own Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) panel. According to the watchdog Environmental Working Group, only 11 percent of the 10,500-plus ingredients that the FDA has documented in personal-care products have been assessed for safety by the CIR panel.

In response to the lack of government oversight, an international Campaign for Safe Cosmetics was initiated in 2002 to pressure the personal-care industry to phase out known toxic ingredients and replace them with safer alternatives. Manufacturers have been encouraged to sign the "Compact for Safe Cosmetics," and to date more than 300 have done so, including The Body Shop, Burt's Bees and Aubrey Organics.

Migden authored the California Safe Cosmetics Act (S.B. 484) in 2004, with co-sponsorship by Breast Cancer Action, Breast Cancer Fund and the National Environmental Trust. They joined with other public-health, environmental, consumer, Asian Pacific Islander, teen and faith-based groups in a yearlong organizing and lobbying campaign -- which met aggressive opposition from the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association. The industry group spent more than $600,000 trying to defeat the bill, even going so far as to host a website to capture searchers looking for the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. In contradiction to a growing body of science, the website claims that the personal-care products sold in California are the safest in the world.

To Read the Rest of the Article

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

(MS)NBC Pats Itslf on the Back for Ignoring for the Last Two Years That Iraq is in the Midst of a Civil War

Yeah, Keith Olbermann, I admire your candid nature in the midst of a passive mainstream media, but don't get to hippedy-hoppedy about your corporate media station's decision to christen this a "civil war" ... as you state its years in coming. Still you have to give Keith and Congressional Quarterly's Craig Crawford for supplying us a clear picture what is wrong with the corporate mainstream media system (they really aren't telling us anything new about the Bush administration):

To Watch the Video at Alternet

Of course there is also the satirical take:

Daily Show on calling Iraq a "Civil War"

In Vino Veritas?

(via Karolina Lassbo)

... and I thought I liked wine...

Priorities of the Christian Coalition

Christian Coalition pres.-elect leaves
Yahoo News

The president-elect of the Christian Coalition of America has declined the job, saying the organization wouldn't let him expand its agenda beyond opposing abortion and gay marriage.

The Rev. Joel Hunter, who was scheduled to take over the socially conservative group in January from Roberta Combs, said he had hoped to focus on issues such as poverty and the environment.

"These are issues that Jesus would want us to care about," said Hunter, a senior pastor at Northland Church in Longwood, Fla.

Hunter announced his decision not to take the job during an organization board meeting Nov. 21. A statement issued by the group said Hunter left because of "differences in philosophy and vision." Hunter said he was not asked to leave.

"They pretty much said, 'These issues are fine, but they're not our issues, that's not our base,'" Hunter said.

His resignation is the latest setback for the once-powerful group.

The Christian Coalition, founded in 1989 by religious broadcaster Pat Robertson, became one of the nation's most powerful conservative groups during the 1990s, but it has faced complaints in recent years about its finances, leadership and plans to veer into nontraditional policy areas. The group claims more than 2 million members.

Article Link

The Christian Coalition

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Sebastião Salgado: Revolutionary Photographer

(Let me warn you--I got online to just briefly look up some books by Salgado and got lost in the power of his images. Listen to the lecture below--this is a man of ideas just as powerful and passionate as his photographic journeys.)

“Changing the World With Children.” UNICEF

“Epic Sebastião Salgado show at the Berkeley Art Museum.” University of California Berkeley: Campus News (Includes Lecture, Presentation and Panel Discussion: February 8, 2002)

“The Majority World: Three Photo Essays, 1977-92” Terra

“Migrations: Humanity in Transition.” PDN and Kodak Professional (1999)

“Migrations: Humanity in Transition, 1993-1999” Terra

Tired of the Clear Channel Hegemony, Take a Listen to These Independent Online Stations

Tired of the Clear Channel hegemony, poisoning our airwaves with bland copies of what might have once been creative musical inspiration... I don't know about where you live, but in Lexington the airwaves stink with corporate canned radio shows imported for our mindless consumption (with the exception of WRFL who is our independent voice shouting into the wilderness, an oasis in a dry desert).

Take a chance... open our ears, our minds, and hopefully our bodies will follow! Best of all, no commercials...

Independent Radio Available Online

(I'm currently listening to Brazillbent Lounge and it is good, not in that bland safe way, but in a what is that, wow, they did that, what the hell... ha, ha, ha, ....)

Reconstruction 6.4: Theories/Practices of Blogging

(Well it is finally done! The issue is available online and is linked in the title below and I have included the contents page here as a preview. Please feel free to leave any comments about the issue here. We also have an archive of past issues available at the site.)

"Theories/Practices of Blogging"
edited by Michael Benton and Lauren Elkin
Reconstruction 6.4

Michael Benton, "Thoughts on Blogging by a Poorly Masked Academic"

Craig Saper, "Blogademia"

danah boyd, "A Blogger's Blog: Exploring the Definition of a Medium"

Tama Leaver, "Blogging Everyday Life"

Erica Johnson, "Democracy Defended: Polibloggers and the Political Press in America"

Carmel L. Vaisman, "Design and Play: Weblog Genres of Adolescent Girls in Israel"

David Sasaki, "Identity and Credibility in the Global Blogosphere"

Anna Notaro, "The Lo(n)g Revolution: The Blogosphere as an Alternative Public Sphere?"

Esther Herman, "My Life in the Panopticon: Blogging From Iran"

Various Authors, "Webfestschrift for Wealth Bondage/The Happy Tutor" [external link]

Lilia Efimova, "Two papers, me in between" [external link]

Introduction: Lauren Elkin, "Blogging and (Expatriate) Identity"

Various Bloggers, "Why I Blog: Part 1" and "Part 2"

Review Essays
Laxman D. Satya, "The Question is not, 'Can the Subaltern speak?' The Question is, 'Can She be heard?' A Review of Lata Mani's Contentious Traditions: Debate on Sati in Colonial India"

Larry Taylor on "Midwestern Unlike You and Me: New Zealand's Julian Dashper" [art exhibit]

Marc Ouellette on Wheeler Winston Dixon's Film and Television After 9/11

Marc Ouellette on Geoff King and Tanya Krzywinska's ScreenPlay: cinema/videogames/interfaces

Michael Benton: Thanksgiving

(I wrote this last year when I was at one of the lowest points in my life. I was reflecting on what radical friendship, love and companionship would entail. I was seeking comrades of the [im]possible. I send it out this year with much more happiness, hope and humor. Still, though, I seek those comrades... Thanks to Molly Bloom for reminding me about this...)

In my mind, friendship is a radical engagement... how do we form meaningful relationships in this world and what are the significance of those bonds?

This is meaningless pastiche at its worst--you have been warned! A sure sign of encroaching mental illness in that I have a naive belief in language, friendship, erotics/politics, possibilities and change.

I suffer from a Deleuzian stutter, or a Derrida-da-da, in which my language is stifled by the spectacle.

So many friends lost through time, through neglect and through conflict. “We have lost the friend . . . the friend of the perhaps . . . of respectfully experiencing that friendship." So many dead, some institutionalized, and some just disappeared back into the void. “I will continue to begin again … and I’ll have to wander all alone in this long conversation that we were supposed to have together.”

Spectral visitors stay my hand reminding me that the only answers are in questions that produce more questions. Unsure and uneasy, I stumble about asking questions of everything and everyone.

Popular culture haunts my questions and mocks my unrest by co-opting it for entertainment: “I know why you hardly sleep. Why you live alone and why night after night you sit at your computer. … I know because I was once looking for the same thing. … It’s the question that drives us."

My spectral guides condemn those that have escaped into this cultural amnesia of recycled consumer pleasures. Yet, I wonder if we can truly blame these defectors for choosing the tender steak over the complex gruel? When were they offered an opportunity to believe otherwise: “Your soul is like an appendix! I don’t even use it!” My TV encourages me to escape into its warm embrace and forget the outside world:

The television screen is the retina of the mind’s eye. Therefore the television screen is part of the physical structure of the brain. Therefore whatever appears on the television screen emerges as raw experience for those who watch it. Therefore television is reality, and reality is less than television.

Rejecting the siren's lure, I turn everything off and find a quiet place far away from the competing voices. I am listening for the emergence of a being, an/other who escapes my comprehension, this listening requires a transition to a new dimension of understanding.

I am listening to you: although I do not understand what you are saying, I am attentive to your silence amongst history’s mentions, I am attempting to understand and hear your intention. Which does not mean: I comprehend you, or that I know you … No, I am listening to you as someone that I do not truly know … with you but not as you … I reside in a realm of absolute silence in order to hear what you have to say or what is left unsaid or what reverberates from the unknown. I quest for new words, for new meanings, for new modes of understandings that will bridge this river of silence … for an alliance of possibilities that will not reduce the Other to an item of property or a subject to be mastered. This unspeakable silence is a rift that shatters the boundaries of my life in order to produce a conflagration of nothingness that sears the forest of my consciousness clearing the way for new growths. Perhaps, as the borders of my psyche that restrain my various selves breaks-up, there will be the productive explosion of new life spreading across my interior landscape. Chaos enters my realm and produces … possibilities.

“Perhaps the impossible is the only chance of something new, of some new philosophy of the new … Perhaps friendship, if there is such a thing, must honor ... what appears impossible here." Where are the friends that ask questions of the dominant and seek the impossible? I dream of relationships yet to come, writing as a politics of creative imagination that refuses to be silenced. I await a new politics, new friendships and new possibilities... in the meantime I'm not afraid to say I really don't know the answers, but I am still asking questions.

For that I am thankful!

Patchwork Cast:

Jacques Derrida’s eulogy for Gilles Deleuze: “I’ll Have to Wander Alone.”
The character Trinity speaking to Neo in the movie The Matrix
Michael Kelso on That 70s Show
Brian O'Blivion in David Cronenberg's film Videodrome
Luce Irigaray The Way of Love and To Be Two
Jacques Derrida's Politics of Friendship

Sprinkled throughout:

Michael's fears, hopes and desires


Guy Debord
Gilles Deleuze
Michel Foucault
Martin Heidegger
Karl Marx
Friedrich Nietzsche

Intellectual Intoxicants still resonating years later (recipe called for the cook to stir and simmer for years until tightly bottled conception explodes all over the place):

Rebecca Saunder's and Ronald Strickland's courses at Illinois State University "Mourning of Modernity" and "Marxist Cultural Theory"

Like all meaningless writings one must periodically turn over the topsoil exposing the rotten concepts, words and beliefs to the sun, leaving the exposed underground to develop into a new potent hummus... when developed into a potent mix spread liberally across the society. Recipes must be changed frequently to resist contamination from the monological discourse that seeks to control pointless thoughts.

Culture/Collective Memory

(Archival stuff from course weblogs that I am closing down--already compiled so I'm putting it here for others to browse)

12 Gauge (Literary zine based out of Brooklyn, NY—in operation since 1995)

Aesthetics and Visual Culture

African Philosophy Resources

Agenda (A journal about women and gender originating out of South Africa. See this article for a brief history)

AK Press ["Our goal is to make available radical books and other materials, titles that are published by independent presses, not the corporate giants, titles with which you can make a positive change in the world. The sorts of books we stock are less and less available from the corporate publishers, booksellers & websites."]

All Songs Considered (NPR’s signature music show that has a wealth of music tracks and background on the artists—for instance they made available tracks from Nirvana’s Box Set on the day it was released: Listen Here)

Alternative Press Review (Left perspective magazine that collects the best of alternative presses. Originates from Arlington, VA)

American Studies at the University of Virginia (Huge archive of links and resources)

Anderberg, Kirsten. Lonely Amidst Applause (Posted at personal website: January 2005) ["Opening your life up to the public sets one up for at least two lives. There is the public person, that side that the public sees and then expands with their own imaginations, creating personal relationships, albeit one-sided ones, with public entities. Then there is the public personality's private life, that only those in closest proximity to the public person know about. Sometimes there is a third level that only the public person her/himself knows about. These levels of reality are more marked than in normal daily separation of environments, it seems, as the fame aspect follows you through all realms in a way that one's roles at normal work environments would not."]

Art and Politics ["Recent criticism has demonstrated that the museum is not a neutral institution, but is complicit in maintaining the existing social, political, and economic hierarachies."]

ASLE: Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment [Articles, annotated bibliographies, reviews, biographies, study guides and other sources]

Azizah Magazine ( Based in Georgia (US). Self-description: “a magazine that reflects the experiences and perspectives of Muslim women living in North American society.”)

Barrelhouse (Self-description: “In our pages you'll find fiction and poetry from new and established writers, as well as essays and interviews on everything from art to music to reality television.”)

Baseball Directed by Ken Burns. PBS (2003) [""Baseball," the poet Donald Hall told us in a filmed interview, "because of its continuity over the space of America and the time of America, is a place where memory gathers." It was our intention to pursue the game — and its memories and myths — across the expanse of American history. We quickly developed an abiding conviction that the game of baseball offered a unique prism through which one could see refracted much more than the history of games won and lost, teams rising and falling, rookies arriving and veterans saying farewell. The story of baseball is also the story of race in America, of immigration and assimilation; of the struggle between labor and management, of popular culture and advertising, of myth and the nature of heroes, villains, and buffoons; of the role of women and class and wealth in our society. The game is a repository of age-old American verities, of standards against which we continually measure ourselves, and yet at the same time a mirror of the present moment in our modern culture — including all of our most contemporary failings. But we were hardly prepared for the complex emotions the game summoned up. The accumulated stories and biographies, life-lessons and tragedies, dramatic moments and classic confrontations that we encountered daily began to suggest even more compelling themes. As Jacques Barzun has written, "Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball."]

Benton, Michael. “Moonshine Clans of the Alphane Mountains.” In the Fray (June 3, 2004)

"Bhutan: The Last Place." Frontline World (PBS: May 2002) ["the impact of television on a remote Buddhist kingdom in the Himalayas. After centuries of self-imposed isolation, Bhutan legalized TV in 1999 -- the last country in the world to do so."]

Biography Project (Website introduction: “Welcome to the Biography Project. This reference tool is an ongoing effort to catalog and document the contributions of authors, artists, scientists, film makers and other culturally influential individuals on underground culture in its various forms. This is direct response to the unfortunate *lack* of accurate and comprehensive information on the net regarding 'popsubculture'.”)

Black Table (Literary/cultural journal)

Booknotes (Website description: “C-SPAN's signature author interview program, has served as a forum for books about history, politics and public affairs for a dozen years. C-SPAN's unedited, commercial-free format, allows for an in-depth discussion with an author distinct from other author interview programs. The format is simple: one author, one book, one hour. For a full hour every Sunday night, fifty-two weeks a year, an author discusses their recently-released work of non-fiction. Beyond the book's subject matter, authors are also queried about the writing process, about how and why they came to write their book and their own lives and influences. Authors may appear on Booknotes only once in their writing career.” )

Bookslut (website description: “Bookslut is a monthly web magazine and daily blog dedicated to those who love to read. We provide a constant supply of news, reviews, commentary, insight, and more than occasional opinions.” Also “named one of the 50 best websites by Time, one of the best literature websites by The New York Times.”)

Bookworm (website description: “A must for the serious reader, "Bookworm" showcases writers of fiction and poetry - the established, new or emerging - all interviewed with insight and precision by the show's host and guiding spirit, Michael Silverblatt.”)

Byzantine Studies on the Internet

Cabinet Magazine ("Cabinet is an award-winning quarterly magazine of art and culture that confounds expectations of what is typically meant by the words "art," "culture," and sometimes even "magazine." Like the 17th-century cabinet of curiosities to which its name alludes, Cabinet is as interested in the margins of culture as its center. Presenting wide-ranging, multi-disciplinary content in each issue through the varied formats of regular columns, essays, interviews, and special artist projects, Cabinet's hybrid sensibility merges the popular appeal of an arts periodical, the visually engaging style of a design magazine, and the in-depth exploration of a scholarly journal. Playful and serious, exuberant and committed, Cabinet's omnivorous appetite for understanding the world makes each of its issues a valuable sourcebook of ideas for a wide range of readers, from artists and designers to scientists and historians. In an age of increasing specialization, Cabinet looks to previous models of the well-rounded thinker to forge a new type of magazine for the intellectually curious reader of the future. Cabinet was named "Best New Magazine" of 2000 by the American Library Association's Library Journal and "Best Art and Culture Magazine" for 2001 and 2003 by the New York Press.")

California Authors ["Squinting westward, New York publishing seems to see us dimly. California. Somewhere. Out there at the end of the Pony Express line, indefinable on the dusty horizon. But from here, under the bright western sky, Pacific crashing at our feet, California shows up in crisp detail. It is generous, even lavish: rich in literary tradition, the nation's largest book market, home to the readers who create best-sellers, home to the eloquent voices who are defining the best in American publishing. It’s all so clear to us. Here. And because being here counts, we are building — creating an online literary hub for the West Coast's finest writers and their readers. We began with a deep understanding of the publishing industry and the West Coast media–works, an expanding online library, a commitment to supporting literacy and freedom of expression, and a real desire to share California's literary riches with the world. Even New York. Visit daily to check out the latest Left Coast literary news, reviews and new releases — and see why the San Francisco Chronicle calls us “increasingly essential” reading. Browse fresh writing in our collection of essays and excerpts, and enjoy our gallery of premier author websites. You’ll find many of your favorite California writers, along with some wonderful new voices, in our Author Directory. We make it easy to keep up on literary events statewide and cruise the West Coast's eclectic independent booksellers online."]

Calvin and Hobbes (An intelligent, imaginative, and insightful comic strip)

Chelsea Green Publishing ["Chelsea Green sees publishing as a tool for effecting cultural change. Our purpose is: to stop the destruction of the natural world by challenging the beliefs and practices that are enabling this destruction and by providing inspirational and practical alternatives that promote sustainable living. We seek to promote better understanding of natural systems as a global commons. We seek to empower citizens to participate in reclaiming the commons, to serve as its effective stewards, and to help mitigate worldwide social and environmental disruptions. We seek to build a community of new voices that will empower and inspire individuals to reduce their ecological impact and to participate in the restoration of healthy local communities, bioregional ecosystems, and a diversity of cultures."]

China Mieville: 50 Science Fiction and Fantasy Works That Every Socialist Should Read

"The Civil War." Directed by Ken Burns. PBS (2002) ["Nearly 20 years ago, on Christmas Day, 1984, I finished reading a book that literally changed my life – a wonderful, historical novel called The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara. It told the story of the most important battle in our nation's history: Gettysburg. I remember closing that book and telling my father, "Now I know the subject for my next documentary. It's going to be the Civil War."]

Clamor Magazine ["Clamor Magazine's mission is to provide a media outlet that reflects the reality of alternative politics and culture in a format that is accessible to people from a variety of backgrounds. Clamor exists to fill the voids left by mainstream media. We recognize and celebrate the fact that each of us can and should participate in media, politics and culture. We publish writing and art that exemplifies the value we place on autonomy, creativity, exploration, and cooperation. Clamor is an advocate of progressive social change through active creation of political and cultural alternatives."]

Contemporary Cultural Studies Resources

Continental Philosophy Resources

Conversations With History: Research Galleries. Institute of International History, University of California—Berkeley (Extensive online video and audio archive of interviews broken down into easily browsed categories.) Main Catalogue by Subject and Most Recent

Cooke, Rachel. "Emails From the Edge." Observer (January 16, 2005) ["A female architect's poignant and witty dispatches about living with her mother-in-law in the West Bank have become a surprise publishing success, revealing the absurdity and adversity of everyday Palestinian life."]

Critical Theory Resources

Django Reinhardt Talk of the Nation (PBS: December 8, 2004) ["Django Reinhardt is a legend of jazz guitar whose shadow still looms over performers 50 years after his death. A new book sheds light on the life of Reinhardt, who rose to stardom in just 43 years."]

Django Reinhardt: The Biography by Alain Antonietto ["The poet Serge evokes the scene as it was then : “Down there in the Gypsy camp a banjo was jiggling with a popular melody.., one had the impression of distant dance music, dizzying waltzes one the sweetness of an accordion. Camp fires were everywhere, each with its cooking pot. Everywhere chickens were stewing and banjos going wild...” This was the setting in which Django grew up - in a world that today has become the stuff of legend, the world of the bohemian and the vagabond on the doorstep of a great city : caravans and horses on the waste ground, wooden fences, weedy ditches for brawling children and bony dogs to roam in, Gypsy women with their kiss-curls and long flowing dresses, black- moustached men in striped waistcoats and broad- brimmed hats, men with dancing bears and performing goats, chair-menders, horse-copers, ragpickers, scrap-metal merchants, basket-makers, tinkers and musical-instrument makers - a whole world lost for ever under the bulldozers, leaving behind only a wisp of smoke from a camp-fire, the notes of a guitar drifting on the wind..."]

Ellis, Joseph. "His Excellency: George Washington." Booknotes (January 1, 2005) ["Joseph Ellis talks about his biography of George Washington, "His Excellency," at the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston. The author explains Washington's position on several issues, including expansion and slavery. Author Bio: Joseph Ellis is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "Founding Brothers," and "American Sphinx," his biography of Thomas Jefferson."]

Fish, Stanley. One Univeristy Under God? Chronicle of Higher Education (January 7, 2005)

For a Student Researching the Holocaust

From Holler to the Hood

Garcia, Manuel, Jr. "God and Country." Swan Commentary (January 17, 2005) ["To criticize religion is unkind, like ridiculing a child's thumb sucking and security blanket. Then why discuss it, since for many, discussion is equivalent to critique? Because concepts of God are at the root of attitudes about community, security and power, and these in turn affect our shared external reality -- country. Church and State, God and Country, they are never far apart. The ideal would be to keep our Gods contained within ourselves so they do not destroy what we enjoy together. Reality is otherwise."]

Ghost Town [This is a motorcycle diary of Elena's, aka Kid of Speed, trip through the nuclear deadzones within Eastern Europe. A great reminder as we recently passed the 25th anniversary of the Three Mile Island Incident in the U.S. and the Nuclear Energy Institute continues to tell us that there is no longer anything to worry about. This story reminds us of some of the worst abuses of the corrupt communist bloc and the continuing lies of our own capitalist system regarding the danger of nuclear power.]

Globalist Person of the Year 2004: Commoner Joseph Darby's Uncommon Courage The Globalist (January 7, 2005) ["In selecting a person of the year, magazine editors often look to heroes and strong leaders. And yet, some of the world’s most remarkable individuals are people who are virtually faceless and nameless. The Globalist’s “Person of the Year 2004” is an American whose courageous actions reaffirmed the world’s belief in America’s true ideals in troubled times."]

"Graphic Novelist with a Comic Sensibility." National Public Radio (January 8, 2005) ["When Derek Kirk Kim's debut graphic novel Same Difference and Other Stories appeared in 2003 as a self-published paperback, it drew little notice. Now it has won the top three awards of the comic world." The comic that won the awards is available online ]

The Great Chicago Fire: Web of Memory Chicago Historical Society and the Trustees of Northwestern University. (1996) ["The exhibition is divided into two main parts. The first, represented by an image of the burning city taken from a contemporary Currier & Ives lithograph, is titled The Great Chicago Fire. Its five chronologically organized chapters focus on the conflagration and the city's recovery. The second part is called The Web of Memory. Its governing image is a doll named Bessie, which was saved from the flames by six-year-old Harriet Peabody when her family gave up their home for lost. The six chapters in The Web of Memory examine a half dozen ways in which the fire has been remembered: eyewitness accounts, contemporary journalism and popular illustrations, imaginative forms such as fiction and poetry and painting, the legend of Mrs. O'Leary, souvenirs of various sorts, and previous commemorations by civic groups and by the Historical Society. In both The Great Chicago Fire and The Web of Memory, each chapter consists of three integrated sections: thematic Galleries filled with electronic images of a great range of artifacts, a Library of relevant texts, and an Essay that provides a context for both the Galleries and the Library."]

A Guide to Anna Deavere Smith's Play Twilight: Los Angeles ("To Anna Deavere Smith, Twilight: Los Angeles is a tragedy. It is a crisis of community to some; a riot to others, a war or an “urban explosion” to still others. It is linked to other outbursts of violence in our nation’s history. Yet it is contemporary, linked most recently to the explosion in Cincinnati in 2001. In 1992, a nation listened to the verdict in the first trial of the Los Angeles police officers indicted for the beating of Rodney King. That beating was broadcast throughout the nation and around the world. All who watched became witnesses. In the hours that followed the acquittal, acts of violence erupted in Los Angeles and angry words of rage were expressed by friends and strangers everywhere. Journalist Richard Rodriguez said of the violence, 'It was the worst moment for Los Angeles. It was also the first moment, I think, when most people in L.A. realized they were part of the whole. The city that the world mocked for not being a city, for lacking a center, having only separate suburbs, separate freeway exits—L.A. realized that it was interconnected." Americans—not only those in the streets but also millions of others who watched on TV—saw rioters drag Reginald Denny from his truck at the corner of Florence and Normandie and beat him. Facing History resource speaker and author Greg Alan-Williams has written about a similar moment when he and others stepped forward to save a life. When students view Twilight: Los Angeles, they ask: Why didn’t more people try to stop the violence? Why didn’t more help? They ask about the causes of the rage and relate stories of injustice and discrimination from their own experiences. Anna Deavere Smith’s Twilight: Los Angeles directed by Marc Levin examines the event from a variety of perspectives. She has collected fragments of monologues that both invite and provoke conversation. Together they raise questions about race, power, truth, and justice. They reveal how myths, misinformation, and misunderstanding can lead not only to prejudice and stereotyping but also violence. “Strangers turned against strangers” energized by rumor, propaganda, rage, and for some, a sort of mindless entertainment—an outlet for misplaced energy and anger. Their experiences deepen our understanding of the importance of listening to one another’s stories and to understanding one another’s point of view. But listening is not enough. Although the looting and burning damaged nine out of every ten Korean-owned businesses in South Central Los Angeles, the tragedy lay in the deaths of 51 human beings. This study guide, both in print and on our website——is designed to help teachers and students discuss the difficult and controversial issues raised by the film. It suggests the complexities of Los Angeles’s history or that of any other community in crisis. It also reveals the importance to a democracy of the kind of education that equips students to negotiate those complexities.")

Guide to Philosophy on the Internet

A Guide to the Film Schindler's List ("Schindler's List, the award-winning film directed by Steven Spielberg from a screenplay by Steven Zaillian based on the book by Thomas Keneally, tells the story of Oskar Schindler, a war profiteer and member of the Nazi party who saved over 1,000 Jews during World War II. The movie explores the human capacity for monumental evil as well as for extraordinary courage, caring, and compassion. And by revealing how fragile civilization truly is, it turns history into a moral lesson. No lesson is more needed in our schools today. As Spielberg recently told members of Congress, "History has to cease being facts and figures, stories and sagas from long ago and far away about them or those. In order to learn from history, rather than just about it, students need to rediscover that those people were just like us." Hannah Arendt, one of the foremost political philosophers of our time, explained why the teaching of history must have a moral component when she argued that we can put past evils into the service of a future good only by squarely facing reality. She wrote, "The methods used in the pursuit of historical truth are not the methods of the prosecutor, and the men who stand guard over the facts are not the officers of interest groups - no matter how legitimate their claims - but the reporters, the historians, and finally the poets." And, she might have added, the film-makers. The facts - no matter how horrifying - must be preserved, not "lest we forget," but so that we may judge. Preservation and judgment do not justify the past but reveal its meaning. Several years ago, Steven Spielberg was asked to choose an image that summarized all of his films. He chose "the little boy in Close Encounters [of the Third Kind] opening the door and standing in that beautiful yet awful light, just like fire coming through the doorway." That "beautiful yet awful light" is knowledge and it offers both promise and danger. In Schindler's List, Spielberg encourages us to take a step toward the light - "toward what we don't understand and what we don't know about and what scares us.")

Hispanics Critique American Girl Doll ["Some residents of Chicago's largely Hispanic Pilsen section are upset over a new doll in the popular American Girl series because her storyline says the Mexican-American youngster and her family left the "dangerous" neighborhood for a better life in the suburbs."]

Honor the Legacy: The Memory of Martin Luther King Jr. [An online documentary. Martin Luther King was a pacifist in that he preached change through non-violent protest, but he was not "passive" when confronted with the need to address injustice and oppression. His words were a rallying cry for a re-vision of the United States of America... now that he has a holiday, streets, and schools named for him it is easy to forget how he, and other strong souls, fearlessly spoke truth to power.]

Ideology of Discovery

Images of Authority ["Leaders have long seen the power of images. From Ancient Egypt with the images of the Pharaoh to the images of George W. Bush in government offices, the image of the political leader has been understood to signify the authority of that leader."]

Ireland, Doug. The Howard Hughes Scorsese Doesn't Tell You About." Direland (January 27, 2005) ["Martin Scorcese deserves an Oscar--but not for his mendacious film The Aviator, which glorifies the odious Howard Hughes. Scorcese, of all people, ought to know better than to have done so."]

Internet African History Sourcebook

Internet Ancient History Sourcebook

Internet East Asian Sourcebook

Internet Global History Sourcebook

Internet Histories Sourcebooks Project

Internet History of Science Sourcebook

Internet Indian History Sourcebook

Internet Islamic History Sourcebook

Internet Jewish History Sourcebook

Internet Medieval Sourcebook

Internet Modern History Sourcebook

Internet Women's History Sourcebook

Jazz. Directed by Ken Burns. PBS (2004) ["Jazz has been called the purest expression of American democracy; a music built on individualism and compromise, independence and cooperation."]

Kirsten's BUSKING & PERFORMANCE PAGE ["My main interest is street performing aka busking, as it is not documented properly for some unknown reason, thus I aim to document part of that culture. I also want to leave a road map for others who would like to start busking. But my busking career overlapped with careers playing in swing bands, performing with vaudevillians, this is a catch all page for performing information I have accumulated over the decades, through the eyes of a solo woman busker, for the most part. I enjoy busking, it is very different than other entertainment venues. It is very antiauthoritarian and a good use of the public square, in my opinion. Busking also helps keep free speech in exercise."]

Lang, Lang: Piano Prodigy 60 Minutes (January 9, 2005) [The 22-year-old Chinese musical prodigy has been called one of the greatest classical pianists of his generation.]

Lois Lowry's The Giver ("To the Nazis, music was the “most German of the arts.” To the Jewish composers confined in Terezín, a concentration camp in what is now the Czech Republic, it was the most universal. In Terezín, they openly created and played music that was censored in other parts of Nazi-occupied Europe. Through that music, writes historian Ruth Bondy, a survivor of Terezín, they “opened a window into another world, different from the reality of the ghetto. Listening with closed eyes to Bernard The Giver by Lois Lowry—a futuristic novel that explores the relationship between past and present, between identity and memory. The Central Question: How do our individual and collective memories shape who we are today and influence our futures?")

Matters of Race ("My mother is a beautiful woman. In times of crisis as a child, I remember looking up at her knowing she had the answers to questions I found so hard for my young mind to grasp. Her words would always relax the moment’s pain and confusion when once again I was reminded that my brown skin, wooly hair, and full lips made me different to my classmates at my Irish Catholic grade school. Her voice, always gentle but firm, would say, “we’re all just human-beings, we’re all equal,” but she never said, “race didn’t matter.” I share this story because in Matters of Race we tried to show, through the stories of everyday people from Hawaii to New York, from South Dakota to North Carolina, that race is something we all live with everyday. It is a real part of our lives that keeps us guessing. “Is it race or is it me?” “Was that an insult because of who I am or just because…?” We might not be aware of it everyday but it only takes a look, a word, an inappropriate action, or an overt denial of basic rights or privileges to make race present, felt, and therefore real. In Matters of Race, we seek to explore our separate, as well as shared, past and present. In these stories of our individual and collective lives we see people grappling with race and its meaning in American society. Through these various narratives, we begin to learn about shared experience. And while that which keeps us together can be the burden of the past, that which unites us is also the challenge and the promise of mutual respect, which we gain through knowledge and the greater appreciation for our differences. The films challenge us to find a way to not just tolerate difference, but respect it. Our nation is a nation of many different cultures, and many different peoples wearing many different colors. While we strive to be a nation of people united with a common purpose, ideals and destiny, we are still a people who come from many places from around the world. We all strive to preserve some of the things that uniquely connect us to those far and varied places of origin. Whether a recent immigrant, native descendent or one who came by force or by choice, we all live here today cherishing our right to express our identity and ourselves as we choose. Our promise to protect and allow difference is what draws many to our shores. But the critical question that writer John Edgar Wideman challenges us to consider in Matters of Race is, “If we are different, who determines the meaning of difference, who benefits from its meaning? Who shall create its form and who will benefit from it?”)

Memory, History and Memorials

Metaphysics Resource Page

Montagne, Renee. Unforgivable Blackness: Jack Johnson's Saga PBS (January 17, 2005) ["In 1908, Jack Johnson made history by becoming the first black heavyweight boxing champion of the world, stunning crowds in Sydney, Australia, by knocking out Tommy Burns. Many whites were outraged by the win -- and soon Johnson found himself squared off with retired heavyweight champ Jim Jeffries, who became known as the "Great White Hope."]

My Hero Project

Mysticism Resources

The National Security Archives [Materials are available online. "The National Security Archive combines a unique range of functions in one non governmental, non-profit institution. The Archive is simultaneously a research institute on international affairs, a library and archive of declassified U.S. documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, a public interest law firm defending and expanding public access to government information through the FOIA, and an indexer and publisher of the documents in books, microfiche, and electronic formats. The Archive's approximately $2.3 million yearly budget comes from publication revenues and from private philanthropists such as the Carnegie Corporation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Ford Foundation. As a matter of policy, the Archive receives no government funding. The National Security Archive was founded in 1985 by a group of journalists and scholars who had obtained documentation from the U.S. government under the Freedom of Information Act and sought a centralized repository for these materials. Over the past decade, the Archive has become the world's largest non governmental library of declassified documents. Located on the seventh floor of the George Washington University's Gelman Library in Washington, D.C., the Archive is designed to apply the latest in computerized indexing technology to the massive amount of material already released by the U.S. government on international affairs, make them accessible to researchers and the public, and go beyond that base to build comprehensive collections of documents on specific topics of greatest interest to scholars and the public."]

Neary, Lynn. "Moral Values Seemingly at Odds with Popular Culture." Morning Edition (PBS: January 3, 2005) ["Many Americans say they voted for moral values in the presidential election, but sex and violence in the entertainment industry is as popular as ever."]

“Niall Ferguson.” Book TV (August 28, 2004) ["Niall Ferguson joined Book TV for a conversation about his life and work. Mr. Ferguson teaches Financial History at the Stern School of Business at New York University. He is also a Senior Research Fellow and Visiting Professor of History at Jesus College, Oxford University, and a Senior Fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He is the author of five books: "The Pity of War: Explaining World War One," "The House of Rothschild" (in two volumes, "Money's Prophets" and "The World's Banker"), "The Cash Nexus: Money and Power in the Modern World, 1700-2000," "Empire: The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power," and "Colossus: The Price of America's Empire," which publishes in April 2004. Mr. Ferguson and his family have homes in New York and Oxfordshire, England."]

NPR 100 {"The most important American musical works of the 20th century." Listen to the music and hear the stories behind the music.]

Ozeki, Ruth. “Creating Novel Life Forms—Literally.” Satya (May 2003):

Palahniuk, Chuck. “Diary.” Bookworm (KCRW: November 6, 2003): (website description: “Palahniuk takes on some rather aggressive questions about American culture and the artist. Can an artist survive popularity? Cult adoration? Commercialism? His answers may surprise you.”)

People With a History: An Online Guide to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans History

Philosophy and Culture

Philosophy and Religion

Philosophy Resources

Philosophy, Technology, and Environment (archive of sources)

The Reasoning Page (Resources on rhetoric, argumentation, reasoning, logic, etc…)

Propaganda Nation

Remembering the Past NewsHour with Jim Lehrer (PBS: April 9, 2004) ["Two people who have survived periods of horrific genocide have teamed up to speak about their experiences in the Holocaust and Rwanda, with the hope of preventing such acts from happening again. Jeffrey Brown speaks to David Gewirtzman and Jacqueline Murekatete about their experiences and how they met."]

Ricky Gervais, A Hit at the Office." National Public Radio (January 25, 2004) ["In The Office, British comedian Ricky Gervais plays David Brent, a buffoonish, self-involved but affable office manager at a dismal paper supply office in the London suburb of Slough. Gervais created the faux documentary and co-writes and directs the series, for which he won a Golden Globe Award."]

Slavery and the Making of America PBS (2004) ["The first were bought in 1619. The last freed in 1865. In the intervening 250 years slaves labored to make America what it is today."]

Smith, Carl. Urban Disorder and the Shape of Belief: The Great Chicago Fire, the Haymarket Bomb, and the Model Town of Pullman. (Book excerpt: University of Chicago Press, 1994) ["Urban Disorder and the Shape of Belief is cultural history at its finest. By utilizing questions and methodologies of urban studies, social history, and literary history, Smith creates a sophisticated account of changing visions of urban America and provides insightful analyses of the process of shaping historical memory and structuring social meaning."—Robin F. Bachin, Journal of Interdisciplinary History]

The Social Construction of Gender ["To be born a man or a woman in any society is more than a simple biological fact. It is a biological fact with social implications. Women constitute a distinct social group, and the character of that group, long neglected by historians, has nothing to do with feminine "nature." "Gender" is the term now widely used to refer to those ways in which a culture reformulates what begins as a fact of nature. The biological sexes are redefined, represented, valued, and channeled into different roles in various culturally dependent ways. An American anthropologist has put it well: a "Sex/gender system [is] a set of arrangements by which a society transforms biological sexuality in to products of human activity, and in which there transformed sexual needs are met."]

Solnit, Rebecca. “The Silence of the Lambswool Cardigan.” Alternet (July 21, 2003) (on the importance of knowing the origin of everyday things)

Survivors of the Holocaust ("Between 1933 and 1945, the Nazis targeted and systematically murdered millions of children, women, and men solely because of their ancestry. Those murders are collectively known as the Holocaust, a Greek word that means “complete destruction by fire.” The word Holocaust evokes the crematoria of Auschwitz and other death camps where the bodies of many victims were burned. This event is also known as the Shoah, the Hebrew word for catastrophe. Immediately after World War II, Nazi leaders were brought to trial at Nuremberg, Germany for “crimes against humanity” and other war crimes. At those trials, the world heard evidence solely of what the per­petrators did. The voices of victims were not given full expression until decades later. Survivors of the Holocaust brings some of their voices to the classroom. Steven Spielberg, in association with Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation and Turner Original Productions, offers viewers a unique opportunity to hear the story of the Holocaust from the perspective of the survivors.")

Terry Tate: Office Linebacker ESPN (2004) [Brief video spoof--a classic!]

"This is Not Sex!: A Web Essay on the Male Gaze, Fashion Advertising, and the Pose." ["It is now routine to speak critically of the way that women are depicted in our popular visual media. There's too much sex in movies, television and magazines, people say. And this is often coupled to complaints that the media represent women as sex objects, provide unrealistic beauty standards, or focus only on women's outer beauty, instead of the more important attributes of character and accomplishment. There is truth in all of this. But often these claims seem to imply that there is an obvious "thing" called beauty or sexual attractiveness, and that the question is simply whether or not the media should display so much of this "thing." The following web essay casts doubt on the belief that there is such a simple, self-evident "thing" as beauty. It looks at beauty as a cultural construct, at how beauty is defined, at how fashion magazines cultivate a very particular notion of what it means to be attractive or beautiful. And it suggests that this particular notion may be less about sex, less about actual human sexual behaviors, than it is about power."]

Thomas Ligotti: Literature is Entertainment or It Is Nothing

A Touch of Greatness: One Good Teacher Can Change a Child's Life Independent Lens (PBS: 2005) ["In the 1960s, Albert Cullum rejected Dick and Jane for Shakespeare and Sophocles in his elementary school classroom, where students swam down the Mississippi River and hurled themselves from the walls of Troy--all without leaving school grounds. This portrait of one of America's most influential educators shows how cullum ignited the imagination of a generation of children, teaching them how to find their own inner greatness."]

Turner, Jack. The Abstract Wild." (First Chapter from the Book of the Same Name: University of Arizona Press, 1996) ["The contrast between that long weekend and my job appalled me. I knew I wanted to have more experiences like that, even if I couldn't explain what 'like that' meant. There was the adventure and the wilderness, of course, but what interested me was something more. Two months later we went back."]

"Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson." Directed by Ken Burns. PBS (January 2005) ["Johnson in many ways is an embodiment of the African-American struggle to be truly free in this country — economically, socially and politically," said Burns. "He absolutely refused to play by the rules set by the white establishment, or even those of the black community. In that sense, he fought for freedom not just as a black man, but as an individual."]

Vaeth, Chris. "Dr. King: The Remix." AlterNet (January 17, 2004) ["Sure, we know that he was born in Atlanta and became a timeless orator and national martyr. But many in the hip-hop nation have yet to be introduced to the radical Martin Luther King Jr."]

The Weimar Republic: The Fragility of Democracy (“The History of the Weimar Republic in Germany (1919-1933) illuminates one of the most creative and crucial periods in the twentieth century and serves as a significant case study of the critical issues of our own time. Many of the questions asked about the Weimar Republic are relevant to problems individuals and societies face in the twenty-first century.”)

What is Culture? ["Culture is not easily defined, nor is there a consensus among scholars, philosophers and polititicians (nor, probably, among the rest of us) as to what exactly the concept should include. We hope, here, to outline some of the broad-ranging debates which have gone on about the concept of culture during the past century. Furthermore, we hope to offer some insight into what the culture debate means in our own lives and to provide some examples of how cultural meanings are formed, maintained, and changed."]

White, Lynn, Jr. The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis Science (March 10, 1967): 1203-1207. ["Written in 1967 and published in Science magazine, this essay is just as important now, especially in White's understanding of how "Human ecology is deeply conditioned by beliefs about our nature and destiny--that is, by religion."]

Who's Who in the History of Mysticism

Williams, Saul. Tuning In: Musings of a Conscious Artist. Satya (May 2003)

Women Artists of the American West: Past and Present Co-developed by Susan Ressler, Purdue University (Concept developer, editor) Jerrold Maddox, Penn State University (Web developer) (A beautiful, engaging, and illuminating collection of art/writings by/about Women Artists of the American West. A very important site/project. Also produced as a book in a longer form. Divided into four sections at the bottom of the page—click on the links.)

Women at Work ["The following images represent a collection of images I have collected focusing on the theme "Women at Work." Consider these images and articulate the cultural codes the designers draw upon. Whenever possible I have identified the source for the image. See how the designer has adapted the image for the defined audience."]

Joshua Holland: CACI

CACI: Torture in Iraq, Intimidation at Home
By Joshua Holland

Dogged by serious allegations of human rights abuses in Iraq, a leading profiteer from the Iraq war engages in intimidation campaigns against journalists in America who seek to expose its practices.

Consider the unique problems faced by the corporate suits at CACI International, a defense contractor whose services have included "coercive" interrogations of prisoners in Iraq -- interrogations most people simply call "torture."

Think about the image problems a major multinational corporation faces after becoming inextricably linked with the abuses at Abu Ghraib, a firm whose employees have contributed to the iconic images of the occupation of Iraq -- the symbols of American cruelty and immorality in an illegal war. What can a company like that possibly do to protect its brand name after contributing to the greatest national disgrace since the My Lai massacre?

CACI's strategy has been two-fold: its flacks have distorted well-documented facts in the public record beyond recognition, and its senior management has lawyered up, suing or threatening to sue just about every journalist, muckraker and government watchdog who's dared to shine a light on the firm's unique role as a torture profiteer.

Lately, the company's sights have been set squarely on Robert Greenwald, director of Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers, in which CACI plays a starring role. Greenwald has been in a back-and-forth with CACI's CEO, Jack London, and its lead attorney, William Koegel, during "months of calls, emails and letters" in what Greenwald calls a campaign to "intimidate, threaten and suppress" the story presented in the film.

"The threatening letters started early, trying to get us to back off," Greenwald told me. "We refused, and went back at them with a very strong letter saying, 'no, you're war profiteers and we won't be silenced.' Like any bully, they backed down when confronted. No lawsuit was filed-- they're a paper tiger."

The story they don't want told is of a federal contractor that, according to the Washington Post, gets 92 percent of its revenues in the "defense" sector. The Washington Business Journal reported that CACI's defense contracts almost doubled in the year after the occupation of Iraq began, and profits shot up 52 percent.

Yet CACI insists it isn't a war profiteer (a subjective term anyway), but was just answering an urgent call in Iraq. In a letter to Greenwald, Koegel wrote: "the army needed ... civilian contractors to work as interrogators" because the military didn't have the personnel, and CACI responded to the "urgent war-time circumstances" and "has no apologies."

But while the firm had experience in electronic surveillance and other intelligence functions, it, too, didn't have the interrogators. Barry Lando reported finding an ad on CACI's website for interrogators to send to Iraq, and noted that "experience in conducting tactical and strategic interrogations" was desired, but not necessary. According to a report by the Army inspector general, 11 of the 31 CACI interrogators in Iraq had no training in what most experts agree is one of the most sensitive areas of intelligence gathering. The 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, which was in charge of interrogations at Abu Ghraib when the abuses took place, didn't have a single trained interrogator at the facility.

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