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Showing posts from August 13, 2017

love, hate and racism

It is sweet and even a part of what I believe that love can conquer racism. But to respond to racism with a direct appeal to the emotions, alas, actual disguises racism. Because racism isn’t just personal expression: it is personal expression congealed into historically rooted structures. And blind love, love that is not informed about those structures, just becomes denial. Let’s start this out personally. A couple of days ago, I was walking Adam home. He took my hand, which he has been doing lately (probably because he is anxious about the fact that we are soon going to move). We passed by this black guy who said, approximately, that white people always grab the hands of their children when they meet black people. I wanted to say, not me! No, I’m different from other white people. But I have to admit, I’m not that different. I live in a society structured to advance people with my skin color. This is why sentiment – love and hate – must be adjusted by statistics – photos

taking down the statues

One of the more depressing things about living in LA - as compared to say Paris - is the lack of statues in the streetlife. In my experience, most french cities – saved those bombed into shit and rebuilt after WWII – are filled with statues and images, gargoyles and fountains. But American cities and suburbs, with some exceptions, do not give you a lot of statue encounters. In the argument about taking down the Confederate statues, there is an understandable theme that this is a matter of mere symbolism, the kind of thing that a white college student can participate in an pat himself on the back – and who doesn’t begrudge that figure his satisfactions? Yet I think the statue-viewer situation is made much too one dimensional in this view of things. There are two dimensions that are left out here. One is the dimension of the symbol and the real in the cityscape, the park, the campus. The other dimension is the material one of who, in the average day, really encounters these st

the hour of the freak

As I’ve written before, Daniel Tiffany’s Infidel Poetics is full of wonderful things, paragraphs that make me want to lay it aside and write long, gulflike commentaries. For instance, in exploring the “canting” literature of the 17 th century, he writes this: “Before it entered modern usage, “slang” meant, in canting jargon, “to exhibit anything in a fair or market, such as a tall man, or a cow with two heads.”38 Hence, “slang” originally referred to the exhibition of freakish things—a kind of social and economic profanity.” Anatoly Liberman, a historian of lexicographer, surveys the theories about the etymology of slang and comes down on the use of slang as the word for making the rounds of a territory – being “out on the slang”. This could apply to actors, prostitutes, or mountebanks. But Liberman, too, concedes that the use of slang to denote a kind of language came from some linguistic sub-group – either thieves’ jargon or hawkers’ jargon. There is a “secret language” named Shel

Take down the statue to Lee, put up one to Wesley Norris

I see that a lot of shitheads, er, peeps soft on the confederacy, want Robert E. Lee's statue preserved for history's sake. Hey, for history's sake, I could agree, long as we match the general with Wesley Norris, the slave who escaped from Lee's Arlington residence, was recaptured, and was given fifty lashes - washed with salt brine - as well as the same number given to his cousin and his sister by the soulful future General. As Frederick Douglas remarked after the war, General Lee was given a sickeningly flattering reception in the Northern Press, but he warnt no Ivanhoe. Here's the testimony. Often disputed by apologists, g enerally agreed to be true by historians . My name is Wesley Norris; I was born a slave on the plantation of George Parke Custis; after the death of Mr. Custis, Gen. Lee, who had been made executor of the estate, assumed control of the slaves, in number about seventy; it was the general impression among the slaves of Mr. Custis that on his d