Saturday, January 31, 2009
In an effort to be "fair and balanced" in the perspectives offered on this blog, I make a habit of trawling the blogosphere and reading what the opposition has to say. This post from last month is interesting in its assertions.
Much talk abounds within the blogosphere concerning Obama's Civilian Security Task Force, and his plans for a Youth Corps. Of course, from the skeptical right and the Libertarian domain, there are the predictable comparisons to Hitler's SS troops. More reasonable comparisons have been made with the Peace Corps of JFK and the Civilian Conservation Corps of FDR.
What interests me is the prediction made by Howe and Strauss, over a decade ago, in their epic book, The Fourth Turning: An American Prophesy (1998). In an historical and political analysis of amazing breadth and scope, the co-authors predicted a return to a national consensus, a resurgence of civic spirit, a quasi-socialistic mood, and a uniformity which would cause uneasiness among the free spirits. Most important was the emphasis they placed on the time, which has supremacy over the leader. In other words, the Depression and WW II made FDR; and not the reverse. Barack Obama rides in on the winds of change; he is not the creator of that change. He puts into action that which is decreed by the times; set in motion by crisis; he is merely the mouthpiece of a force greater than himself or his personal ideology.
As the great historian and philosopher, Jose Ortega y Gasset noted in his famous 1933 text, The Revolt of the Masses, there is a natural chronology to history. Each move in one direction will be counterbalanced. Era will counteract era. Cause and effect will lead to new measures taken against excess. History is in many ways destiny. It is more than merely the actions of men, in pursuit of their ends. I always loved the language of the US Constitution: When, in the course of human events. . . Those words of Thomas Jefferson resonate with spirit and intuition. He does not say, "When ,men do such and such" but rather, "When in the course of human events": There is a certain inevitability sounding through those words.
I have linked this blog post, though it dates from the general election season (July), because I have noted with concern the amount of talk flying around about Obama's Civilian Corps ( which was signed by Defenese Dept. Secty. on Jan. 23). In my opinion, Obama and Emanuel are aiming at an expanded AmeriCorps/Peace Corps type program, which will provide jobs to strengthen our national infra stucture, while at the same time requiring those who are contracted to deploy overseas. I fail to see where members of this task force will be armed, or forced to support the executive branch of the government rather than the constitution. Of course, in a worst case scenario it is possible, but certainly not probable. I think there may be something afoot which will hearken back to an FDR era economic emergency task force. But nothing like the "Obama is the new Hitler" scenarios that those on the right within the blogosphere are painting.
President Obama has recently said that, "You cannot listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done." Limbaugh had caused trouble during the primary election season with his "Operation Chaos"; the scheme involved Republican voters casting their votes for Hillary Clinton in order to push Obama out of the race. Great job, Limbaugh. It really worked!
Friday, January 30, 2009
Whitehouse.gov and http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&sid=aGDN.JEFdYN&refer=us
The Task Force will be headed by Jared Bernstein, who according to the New York Times is a liberal economist and author of a texual study on the Stimulus plan set forth by Obama.
Examining areas such as opportunity to attend college, health care, and organized labor unions, the Times calls it "a reversal of Bush economics". It is alwasy interesting to me, to see in what manner the predictions of Howe and Strauss are materializing in Barack Obama. In a press conference today, Obama spoke forcefully, calling Wall Street bonuses "the height of irresponisibility".
It seems as though it has taken until now for the roaring '90s to end. Howe and Strauss had compared the 1990s to the 1920s in their book, The Fourth Turning. Schooled in the philosophy of Reinhold Niebuhr , Obama is certainly something of a quasi-socialist in his thinking. I say the times call for it; against all nay sayers, it has the right tone for these times. We are not in form for the Libertarian ideal, and it cannot realistically be implemented in our era.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Obama's 819 billion dollar stimulus package has been given the go ahead by the US House of Representatives, comprising an important victory for the President. Opposing Republicans have called the bill wasteful, claiming it will not stimulate the US failing economy.
Reportedly, the Bill passed with virtually zero Republican support, and has been slammed by economists and pundits on the blogosphere.
Using his weekly video address to push the package, the President called the economic situation "dire" and called for its immediate address. While many feel the package is flawed and needs revision, Obama has received support from major CEOs.
Fox News has charged the plan with being "veiled Socialism", and submit that Obama and Pelosi are in truth attempting a long term reshaping of the American economy in the form of Socialism; they call for the President to "call a spade a spade" and encourage "open debate".
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Of Camp in High Culture
I have been reading Van Leer's The Queening of America : Gay Culture in Straight Society (Routledge, 1995; and available @ Amazon.com). It is an interesting analysis regarding the way queer culture and high camp inserted itself - through closeted gay writers - into the culture in the '40s, '50s, and beyond. It is common knowledge that Tennessee Williams used his character, Blanche DuBois, from his A Streetcar Named Desire , as a mouthpiece for his own gay male thoughts and experiences ( " It was despair that drove me, drove me from one man to another"; "I must keep my hands off of children") .
Van Leer points out the manner in which "rhetoric and references specific to gay culture" were silently and stealthily inserted into "normal" discourse as though "culturally neutral". Most interesting and ends on an optimistic note in terms of the advantages of minorites to the general culture. It is certainly true that gay culture has been able to enrich and inform straight society, and often in a manner which goes unnoticed, and is the more effective for it.
( At top: Gay icon Lance Loud; the first openly gay male on American telivison, the oldest son of Pat and Bill Loud in An American Family, which aired on PBS in 1971-73. He died of AIDS at the age of 50, in 2001. Above; Heath Ledgers "high camp" Joker; one of the finest examples of subtle camp that I have seen. )
I am yet to watch "The Wrestler" yet but Rourke's performance is going to have to be pretty weighty in order to top the sensational effort put forward by Sean Penn. Harvey Milk was another brave soul who was chosen to lead a fight against homophobia, civil rights violations and just general stupidity.
Towards the beginning of Milk's journey into politics he is sent a death threat which his lover is startled by and keen to put out of sight, Milk refuses to do so. Instead, he pins it to the refrigerator where it loses it's power to shock, scare and repulse. It's fitting that hate exposed by ignorance loses credibility from mass exposure, where as love, compassion, tolerance and acceptance of others is contagious and unstoppable when spread amongst people who exercise their rights to the most basic of freedoms.
Most of us live our lives in a comfortable, small world of love and hate which remains moderately safe for us. The great men that fight their causes are thrown into an amplified arena of love and hate that forces them to make great sacrifices, but yet, also leads them to make great changes for the benefit of society as a whole.
It's astounding to look back at times when voices of such ignorance and stupidity were elected to speak on behalf of the masses (Not so long ago I hear you say?). Milk was an inevitability of his time in America, a time when fear, a lack of understanding and acceptance were manifested in it's politics. America has always had a tendency to cry outrage about the threat to "Family values" and a "Christian way of life". These non-sensical phrases are brainwashing McTerms that have managed to influence a nation of people always on the look out for a scapegoat.
Milk visits the Opera towards the end of the film and he knows his time is coming to an end as the fat lady does indeed begin to warm up her voice. His demise is shown to be rather theatrical, remaining consistent with his life's work, seeing the beauty of the world around him, even in the final moments of his death. Like Malcom, Martin, Tupac and other figures who predicted their own death correctly, Harvey Milk was aware that his life was a sacrifice made for the greater good. As he said, It's not about ego or personal gain, it's a movement for the preservation of the youth, to guarantee that they don't have to feel persecuted for simply being whatever they happen to be.
The film's best moments derive from observing Milk embarrass his political opponents with what seem to be very obvious facts about the nature of Homosexuality. I hope he would forgive me for saying the stupidity of his opponents beliefs and arguments seemed to personify his own ability to deliver fantastic one liners with such sharp wit. There should have been a bit more of this shown as it really does celebrate the essence of who he was, like watching an artist at work. You could see the pleasure he got from changing people's minds and influencing people to question certain prejudices. It would be fair to say that he was armed with such truth and support that charisma wasn't necessary to clinch his political victories, all he had to do is show up and allow his good natured intentions to shine through. The camera work does a nice job of capturing the era of a restless crowd rallying in the streets of San Fransisco.
I've found it extremely rewarding to read many reviews of this film. Mainly because there has been countless mentions from people that cannot usually stand the sight of Sean Penn who have been pleasantly surprised by his amazing ability to capture the essence of this historically brave man. I consider Sean Penn to be one of, if not the greatest actor of his generation so his performance is no surprise to me at all. Perhaps it is fitting then that two men who seem so desperately misunderstood (obviously to very different degrees of importance), merge into one character on the big screen to deliver such an important message to the world.
Dan White - Two guys can't reproduce
Harvey Milk - But we keep on trying!
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
One of my readers from CA was kind enough to point out my error in calling Obama the "Cusper" president, and those of us who thought we were Boomers and knew we were not Xers as the "Cusper" generation. We are Generation Jones, and Obama's ideology resonates with us because it is Jonesian. He (or she?) provided this link to an excellent Op-Ed piece on Generation Jones in USA today: http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/2009/01/stuck-in-the-mi.html
For the importance of this, see the wonderful texts of Howe and Strauss, The Fourth Turning, and Generations, available @Amazon.com
One of my bloggers, who has full author's rights on this site, Eric Bryant, is a philosophical counselor; a talented philosopher and writer, who has experienced the typical problems which all practicioners go through in getting a client base. But I think the idea of philosophical discourse in the cafe-style may be just as important a venue for a philosophical practitioner, particularly in this time of "the changing of the guard". We now have a president who is highly literary, and strongly philosophical. Steeped in the writings of philosopher Reinhold Niebuhr, Obama's ideas are ideologically grounded; thus his "Change" mantra goes beyond political rhetoric.
I can think of no more important cultural exersize, than to examine philosophically the problems that our culture faces nationally and globally, and to understand that there is a coherent philosophy to Obama's policies. Thus, the questioning of them ought to be just as coherent and philosophically grounded. Thoughts for future projects. A couple of interesting items: in Spring 2008 Hypatia, Haslanger's Changing the Ideology and Culture of Philosophy: Not by Reason (Alone) , available for pdf download. Also an informative site: http://www.comm.umn.edu/foucault/ppc.html
and an excellent compendium of the works of Lasch : http://www.bigbrother.net/~mugwump/Lasch/
During the primary and general elections, he was viewed as the strongest and most technologically savvy candidate.
Using the internet, blogosphere, text messaging, and email in massive and far-reaching ways which outstripped Clinton and McCain, Obama proved himself to be of the hi-tech post-Boomer generation X. Now he deals with outmoded presidential laws which are cramping his high-tech style, and slowing him down, to the extent that his aides feel they have time traveled back to the days of the Carter Administration. Whitehouse.gov now lags days behind its own agenda.
The more details emerge about his case, the more I am getting the sense of a maverick, someone perhaps too wildly passionate, but with strong Democratic ideals, and who may rightly feel scapegoated. After all, many have admitted that the attempts to "sell the senate seat of Barack Obama" are par for the course in Congress; that he was taped without his knowledge, and that we all would be embarrassed by weeks of our words being recorded without our knowledge or consent.
He is eccentric, but there is an authenticity about him. He is naiive. His candor is almost child like. I feel sorry for him. In the December 17 edition of the Huffington Post, journalist Mario Correa points out that Hillary Clinton far outstripped Blago in her "wheeling and dealing" with Obama. The difference, Correa said, is that Blago was too much of a "moron" to be subtle about it. But is this the case? Can a "moron" really be elected Governor of Illinois? The man represented Chicago in Congress, and has a Judicial Doctorate from one of the top American Universites (NorthEastern).
From seeing his interviews, I would say that he may have Asperger Syndrome. A subset of autism, this complex syndrome is marked by high IQ and achievement, fused with a child like inability to dissemble. In many ways he reminds me of my deceased husband: child-like, handsome, with an adolescent voice when he is nervous; basically extremely good at heart; intelligent, but with something slightly off-kilter, which can be mistaken for stupidity or arrogance. When he appeared on the View, co-host Joy Behar could not refrain from tousling his hair. When he appeared before the press in his track suit, jogging, which they found extremely irritating, he seemed to me to be a 12 year old boy saying, "Look at me, I am doing what Americans are supposed to do; I am health minded and optimistic."
His wife also has something very child-like about her. Husband and wife both look and seem far younger than their respective ages of 42 and 52. From what I have seen and read of her, she also displays an unusual child-like candor. She has championed good causes, and worked hard, but like her husband, appears unable to dissemble. It is a known fact that persons with Asperger syndrome are drawn to eachother. They tend to look far younger than their years. They are often mistaken for arrogant or unscrupulous. And it is a syndrome which often goes undiagnosed. On the FBI tapes, Mrs. Blagojevich swears and shouts impatiently, like an hysterical teenager. As I said, I feel increasingly sorry for both of them.
Monday, January 26, 2009
Hic rhodus; hic salta!
For a thorough critique and debunking of the infamous Boomer Generation, which as I said in a recent post, stands reviled as Howe and Strauss indicated for this election year, see Boomer Deathwatch: http://www.rickmcginnis.com/boomer/ This blog space has some of the best articles I have read, which comprise a complete analysis and scathing critique of one of the worst American cohorts ever to come into existence.
What to Expect from Obama's First 100 Days
What can we expect from President Obama's first 100 days?
When we asked the I Ching this question, we received a hexagram with quite a lot of change.
It was clear from our last op-ed that "change" was the watchword of the day. President Obama's election will bring nothing short of near ubiquitous change throughout Congress, the US and the world. The change won't be harsh or abrupt, but gentle yet firm, like a "penetrating wind."
Of course, change is rough - if one isn't ready to change or if one fails to manage the change well. Change can produce instability, volatility, uncertainty. Change can be dangerous.
The Change Leads to Fellowship Among Men
But though these impending changes will bring hardship, President Obama's statesmanship will eventually result in greater fellowship among men, according to the I Ching. The oracle suggests that if we as a nation persevere througout these "penetrating winds" of global change, this will result in hexagram #13 - Fellowship With Men.
Op-Ed informed by the I Ching, Hexagrams #57 and #13
Sunday, January 25, 2009
(at left: Andrew John Kovalinsky; 1952-2006)
Designed as a youth program which would advocate anti-substance abuse and peer and gang pressure clubs, U.N.I. was inspired by the campaign speeches of the Reverend Jesse Jackson. Its implementation was intended to involve the corporate sector and unite businesses, schools, and communitites; however, in 2006 it - or a program oddly similar in name and design - apparently underwent a transformation and appeared as "Above the Influence", a purely educational anti-substance abuse program with no community service involvement or incentives inter-active program. Sponsered by the Bush-Cheney Administration's Partnership for a Drug Free America, it received millions of dollars in federal funding ( 30 million in September 2008 alone). In any case, due to a myriad of duties and obstacles, my husband's program never reached the implementation level. As his widow, it is my hope that I can return the program to its original purpose intended by Andrew, and to enable it to fulfil its true task under a Barack Obama Administration. I have altered the name to "Under New Influence" to reflect the spirit of Change and new leadership in Washington, DC in 2009.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
No comment from President Obama on Pakistan's missile strike policy http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/01/24/pakistan-urges-obama-to-h_n_160584.html
and here Harrison's book, Why Baby Boomers Suck is available @Amazon.com
Barack Obama: The Post-Boomer who rescues America from the Boomer Mess
There is a blog called "Die, Boomer, Die" which I find vastly entertaining: http://dieboomerdie.blogspot.com/
Huxter has much to say about life, thinking, film, and popular culture, and his dexterity concerning critique and commentary come from his general flexibility in the face of life. At the tender age of 27, his is like the shoot of the young Jesse in the Old Testament: a beginning, but with the solid stamp already upon him. Bravo, Martin.
Barack Obama goes beyond charisma, and 8 years of Bush-Cheney delivered him to the Democrats' door. In retrospect, Bush may have been the best thing to happen to the Democrats in our lifetime: He destroyed the GOP, and set it back decades. Our national reputation in Great Britain and in Europe has been cleansed and restored. Barack Obama is not only young, handsome, sexy, vital, and a profoundly talented orator: He has substance, courage, idealsim, and the administrative skill to implementation, and the character to stand behind his decisions. By no means perfect, he is yet the least flawed president which I have beheld in my lifetime. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/24/opinion/24herbert.html?ref=todayspaper
"Transparency and Rule of Law will be the touchstone of this presidency." ~President Barack Obama
The Inexplicable Violence within Israel's Psyche : Musings on Israel's Inner Conflict and the writings of Jason Horsley In reading author Jake Horsley's beautiful work, in which contents of the collective psyche are examined in their intertwining with repression of violence, and the release from that repression - in itself, violent - and happened to think of the odd dialectic which comprises Israel's stance toward itself as a state, and the Palestinians who shadow it.
Horsley's texts ( excerpts and reviews are contained within this months's posts ) contain one of the most profound and thorough analyses of the human psyche and its struggle to deal with violent undercurrents, which I have ever encountered. This attempt at resolution is cultural and social: In America, it takes the form of "entertainment", but is enfolded within military policy and the "war on terror" as well. Our connection with Israel precludes a complete understanding of their own dynamic and failure to deal with the history of their own oppression at the hands of tyrants, whose behavior they now mimic. All of this is grist for the mill, which considering the problems we are facing nationally and globally, is timely and important enough to comprise a solid thesis which may be not only cathartic, but informing as to solutions. "Chaos by Design" is what Horsley has called some of this dialectic of the human psyche with its violent tendencies - and this interplay consists inherently of the human soul in dialogue with itself, a soliloquy of sorts - and this subtitle carries meaning which would seem to span out in all directions, and speak to many national and global conflicts.
Israel has been a private obsession of mine since my youth: I am not Jewish, but had an Uncle who was a reformed Jew, and then turned toward an orthodox stance later in life. I spent much of my 20s in company with a famous author/Rabbi and attended meetings of Hassidicism in Pittsburgh, PA. I have viewed Israel as a kind of archetype of human struggle, and have often felt almost brutally conflicted regarding their ongoing strife with the Palestinians. It is a surprize to me, but a delightful one, that this author, Horsely, is making clearer so much of what I have viewed dimly, as if through Israel's own smokescreen. Addendum: What has impressed me chiefly regarding Horsley's work, is that his writings would appear to contain and comprise a coherent and cohesive philosophy; a phenomenology of human violence, as it were, which is to me extremely philosophical, and carries him far beyond the film genre. I am disturbed that he has not, to my knowledge, been recognized for having achieved this task, one with importance in many social/cultural domains. He was born in 1971, which places him firmly within Howe and Strauss' infamous Thirteenth Generation ( aka Generation X) but his style and analysis is that of a Boomer ( born in the 1940s and '50s). His comprehension of the importance of a shift from the American heartland into the corruption of the enclosed urban landscape is important and sociologically speaking is the crux of much about American violence. I wager this applies to the Israeli predicament as well: overcrowding and urbanization stir something within the recesses of the mind, and may explain Israel's increasingly "make my day" attitude toward Palestine and Hamas, and its "revenge fantasy" tactics. Fatah may just be the ones to throw this back on Israel. We shall see. . .
Here's an excerpt from Volume Two of The Blood Poets, to follow-up SMK's somewhat humbling praise!
Go ahead—Make my day.
If, as Dirty Harry Callaghan said (in Clint Eastwood’s sleazy Sudden Impact) “Revenge is the oldest motivation known to mankind,” then for the action movie, it may just be the oldest and most trusty plot-device there is. The “blood thriller,” from The Big Heat to Die Hard, has been one of Hollywood’s favourite staples of entertainment, partially because, apart from the opportunity such films provide for explosive action, the Revenge Fantasy exploits a basic (male) desire of audiences to “get dirty.” The Revenge Fantasy assumed its modern guise roughly in the early ’70s, with Dirty Harry, Walking Tall and, most crucially of all, Death Wish. Both Dirty Harry and Walking Tall were police thrillers in which the battle for justice (as in The Big Heat) became just a little too personal to constitute orthodox police work; these films were so popular that they started a spate of renegade-cop movies that has become, for the ’90s moviegoer, familiar to the point of contempt. From Eastwood, Steve McQueen, Burt Reynolds and Gene Hackman, all the way up to Arnold Swarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Mel Gibson, Kevin Costner, Bruce Willis, Keanu Reeves, Nicholas Cage, etc., etc., it’s hard to think of an American leading man who hasn’t at some point in his career played the maverick lawman with a tendency to take things personally. Many of the top box office stars of the day have even made a career out of variations on just such a stereotype. Anger is perhaps the easiest thing of all for an actor to play effectively, while revenge fantasies are almost invariably popular with audiences, as the tough, brutal but “sensitive” (sic!) lawman is both flattering to the “orgastically impotent” male ego, and arousing to female libidos. All in all, playing cops on a revenge mission is the easiest possible route to fame and fortune that an actor could hope for. (It’s also his best way to stay in business once he’s made it—witness Eastwood’s seemingly endless, progressively more lacksadaisical, returns to the genre, despite the fact that it’s depressingly plain to everyone that he’s “too old for this shit.”)
The fact that a personal incentive on the part of the lawman is essential to the tawdry, relentless intensity of the cop thriller (as distinct from the ordinary police drama) may have led to the idea—on the part of movie producers—of doing away with “the line of duty” and highlighting the personal element, thereby accentuating the hitherto incidental violence, to the extent that it became the whole raison d’être of the film. At which point, Hollywood came up with the revenge fantasy, not as simply another twist on the action film (and much less as a psychological drama), but as a new (sub)genre in itself.
Pauline Kael (in her review of Magnum Force, “Killing Time,” in Reeling, pg. 251-2) summed it up pretty succinctly:
The killing is totally realistic—hideously, graphically so—yet since it’s without emotion it has no impact on us. We feel nothing towards the victims; we have no empathy when they get it, and no memory of them afterward. As soon as one person gets it, we’re ready for the next. The scenes of carnage are big blowouts—parties for the audience to gasp at in surprise and pleasure... the writers and the directors no longer create different emotional tones for the deaths of good and bad characters. The fundamental mechanism of melodrama has broken down.
American movies were in the process not only of mythologizing the past but of romanticizing the present also (and, more covertly, shaping the future), imposing these old traditional black-and-white values that never really existed (or at least, never worked) on an increasingly confused, morally ambivalent, and all-too gray society. In the Wasteland of the late 20th century, the only values that really served to reassure us were the values of the movies (being, after all the collective fantasies of the masses).
Kael writes on this subject extensively in her essay, “The Street Western” (in Reeling, pg. 284-88), commenting that,
the Western cowboy hero hasn’t disappeared; he’s moved from the mythological purity of wide-open spaces into the corrupt modern cities and towns (Dirty Harry), and on paved streets he’s an inflammatory figure... The street Western is a corruption of the Western, an attempt to apply the Western’s mythology to actual problems—and since it doesn’t apply, the movies (and other forms of pop culture, and politics, too) fabricate situations that are just like those in Westerns so that the mythology will apply... The moral set-up of this street Western is a direct carry-over from the myths of wide-open spaces. No matter how high the odds against him, the virtuous man wins out. He can be trusted with his fists, his stick, and his gun because he has absolute knowledge of innocence and guilt... the hero could never mistakenly injure an innocent person, or the whole structure of the morality play would collapse.
Kael also observes how, in the midst of all this ambivalence and confusion (between fantasy and fact, as well as black and white), the apparent social need for order/justice in America came somehow—in movies at least—to be all mixed up with the more emotional desire for revenge/blood.
Maybe, during all those years of watching Westerns, though we didn’t believe in them we wanted to. The child in us wanted to, and maybe the Westerns softened us up for the primitivism in the guise of realism... Breaking a few arms has a basic demagogue appeal; it makes audiences feel that there is a direct, fast way to solve problems... When the nostalgic dream morality of cowboy movies is imposed on an actual modern town, it becomes a demand for bloodletting... The visceral impact of this... makes one know how crowds must feel when they’re being swayed by demagogues.
The reason for this might well be related to the national sense of insecurity, shame and anger over the Vietnam war, though of course such generalizations always beg the question of the chicken or the egg (or more specifically, did the war create the rage or the rage the war?). The feelings of frustration and impotence at the government for “losing” the war was then, perversely but igeniously, redirected at the American people itself (who were the glue to the government’s rubber?). Specifically, at the youth and the counterculture, as being, on the one hand responsible (through their lack of support for the war) for the defeat, and, on the other hand, as constituting a new problem, a new form of subversion (different but essentially related to that of Communism), a new enemy to be found, this time at home. Hence the desire for revenge (against the Vietnamese)—which was itself a potential social rebellion—was channelled (in part through movies) into a collective sense of fear and distrust, of strangeness (namely the “drop-out” or “subversive”), and thereby converted into a supposed call for order, discipline, conformity, etc. The war, as such, was “brought home,” and the revolution turned against itself (the war became a domestic, cultural war against crime, drugs, subversion, etc.). In the meantime, the soldier himself, trained, dispatched and finally recalled from Vietnam (a soldier without a war), became the misfit; and, in a sense (because he was a reminder of America’s shame), the enemy also. If this all seems unnecessarily confused then that only goes to reflect—I think—the level of confusion in the American psyche at the time, and the manner in which this psyche attempted, and continues to attempt, to exorcise, rehabilate or just plain destroy its demons, through the popular mythology of the movies.
Friday, January 23, 2009
Huffington Post's Rebecca Shapiro has authored a piece which includes a graphic slide show of Gaza victims amidst the ruins. Rumors of Amnesty International finding the useage of white phosphorous by the Israeli's, along with other charges of unprecedented cornering of civilians, torture, shooting of a father in front of his children, etc. are as always to be taken with sober and cautious examination of all facts. Hamas has not been accused of war crimes by the UN, and there needs to be a balanced view, although suspicions of Israel lurk within my own mind.
". . . for the world has changed, and we must change with it." ~President Barack Hussein Obama The picture at left is the moment of President Barack Obama signing executive orders to close Guantanomo, and to suspend trials of suspected terrorist, many of whom have been detained for years now. As Obama returns to a principled and gentle approach, breaking with Bush-Cheney's "war on terror', despite howls from the right, there does seem to be clearer air around the White House. Literary, poetic, charming, handsome: Obama at times seems an enchanted figure; how can America have elected him? I hope it is not naive optimism to think that he will have an effect on the Middle East, as well as in all areas. It is nice to feel optimism: and the dawn of a new era experienced as a reality, rather than an impossible dream, is a welcome change indeed.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Still I Rise: A Graphic History of African Americans by Roland and Taneshia Laird ; available @ Amazon.com; scheduled for release February 3, 2009
Pictorial and Historical-Cultural Narrative is timely, informing, enriching and empowering for African-Americans, and for all Americans
This book is co-authored by husband and wife team, Roland and Taneshia Laird. It is an update of the original text, Still I Rise: A Cartoon History of African Americans, which was published in 1997 and was the first text of its kind, depicting through the use of cartoon illustrations the historical journey of African Americans, from pre-Colonial times to the present day. Throughout this journey, a spirit of fortitude , perseverance, and the will to overcome has served African-Americans and strengthened them, allowing them not only to survive, but to adapt and to evolve as a people.
~Roland and Taneshia Laird are co-authors of both texts. A native New Yorker, Roland Laird graduated from Brown University. While a student there, he was co-founder of the university's Page Black Alumni Council. He is the founder and CEO of Posro Media, an entertainment and production company which uses diverse media formats to depict and explore African American history and culture. Laird seeks to project positive and strong images which serve as a counterbalance and compensation for the all-too-often negative sterotypes which are a cultural blight. His wife and co-author, Taneshia Nash Laird, is a graduate of Baruch College of New York City, and served as marketing director of Posro Media. She currently acts as Executive Director of Trenton's Downtown Association. The couple reside in Trenton, NJ with their daughter, Imani Fasarah Laird.
~A foreward by Charles Johnson introduces the reader to the plight of black cartoonists in American history. Two elderly narrators, male and female, take the reader from the year 1618 to the year of Barack Obama's election. A tendecy on the part of the woman to black nationalism is nicely balanced by the wider perspective of her male counterpart. The skill and autonomy of black slaves gives way to the rich activity of modern African American inventors, scholars, and entrepreneurs. All major political and historical events and organizations are covered in this epic text.
~The book has received extremely favorable reviews, one such being by Phyllis Rhodes of the AP Book Club, who asserted that the book should be, "required reading for students" , noting that the graphics "appeal to all ages". In a News and Reviews Online chronicle, the book was said to have "already gained its audience in academia". The original format of the book received high praise from Entertainment Weekly , which gave it the high mark of an A-, while lauding it as "packed with epic information" and "engaging and well written".
~Certainly, the updating of the original 1997 text is timely and important. The incorporation of the historical event of the election of Barack Obama as our nation's 44th predident enhances the meaning and importance of this book considerably. Barack Obama fulfils the Hegelian historical hero archetype, who sits astride the great moment of history's turning, wherein the apex and reversal of all which preceded is inherited and surpassed and gives birth to a new future. The formidable American historians and political analysts, Howe and Strauss, anticipated in stunning detail the arrival of just such a Thiteenth generation leader in the opening years of the 21st century. Barack Obama is poised in the historical moment: his coming was sudden, and his ascension was aided by the urgency of both black and white Americans, hungry for change. Charismatic, stunning in his oratory skills, he seems almost tailor made to take the helm in these troubled times. Both Roland and Taneshia Laird, speaking in a recent interview, noted that Obama is indeed a consequence of all which has gone before; the fruit of a long line of preceeding struggles. Said Taneshia, "Without all that existed before him, Obama could not exist." Roland added, "He is the beginning of something. We'll see what that something is." This writer has no doubt that Barack Obama is nothing short of an American rendesvouz with Fate and Destiny. As a white woman, I yearn for his leadership as strongly as all who followed him throughout the primary and general election season. And what a gift he is to us; and in the same terms, I hope the Lairds will present this text as a gift to the new President: He could hardly receive a more beautiful present, or one more meaningful and timely.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
It is a misfortune, that many African American girls - or for that matter, girls. period - lack such a father figure in their life. Its importance cannot be over emphasized. I certainly missed out, and I believe I have been a victim of this all my life. I like to think that perhaps the vision of Obama and his youngest daughter can at least serve as an archetype, with which to identify, as figures in an enchanted bedtime story. I certainly hope this can be, for many who are outside this enchanted circle of love.
"I, Barack Hussein Obama. . . "With all the talk circulating about Obama having flubbed the presidential oath, it was really Chief Justice Roberts, who confused Obama with his odd wording and reversing of order. I would wager Roberts had a Freudian resistence about the person he was swearing in. Of course, right wing pundits are now questioning if such a flubbed oath is constitutional. (Yawn)
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
After a great deal of hassle with scanning, I'm pleased to be able to post a copy of my Dissertation which I wrote in 2004.
A Study of Masculinity in the Gangster Genre - By Martin Huxter