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Blog Entries tagged 'power'

A Soldier of Love

December 8th, 2009

Madame Chiang Kai Shek and Eleanor Roosevelt

The Times says the book is awful, but isn't the photo sublime. The turn of the ankle, the rich blue velvet and inscrutable face. The way the eye is drawn to Madame Chiang Kai, how she gives nothing but takes everything. Then Eleanor's distinct blend of American naivete, grit, and optimism.

Addendum: From the review in today's NYT:

Christopher Isherwood, traveling in China with W. H. Auden, met Madame Chiang in the late 1930s. He caught her aura exactly: “She could be terrible, she could be gracious, she could be businesslike, she could be ruthless. . . . Strangely enough, I have never heard anybody comment on her perfume. It is the most delicious either of us has ever smelt.”

November 5th, 2009

Story Time with Barack: Where The Wild Things Are

LOVE.

May 25th, 2009

The Headscarf--Revisioned

I really love the way this discussion about the hijab is continuing to evolve in the midst of The Obama Transition.

From Huff Post:

As always, the nexus of the clash between the West and Islam is the role of women. The Turkish sociologist Nilufer Golë has put her finger somewhat provocatively on precisely what secularists fear might be taken away, but also on what Muslim women are gaining.

"In contrast with the West," she has written, "where the public sphere was first formed by the bourgeoisie and excluded the working class and women, in the Muslim context of modernity women have been the makers of public space. In the Muslim context, the existence of democratic public space depends on the social encounter between the sexes and on the eroticization of the public sphere."

The wearing of the headscarf in universities -- which the AKP sought to allow -- is the flash point of the conflict. To be sure, the headscarf issue signals changing private and public distinctions through the re-entry of religion into the public arena of modern Turkey. But since headscarf proponents argue that it will enhance the opportunities of women in higher education, it also serves as a critique of the idea that only secularism equals modernity.

"Women proponents of the headscarf distance themselves from secular models of feminist emancipation," Gole argues, "but they also seek autonomy from male interpretations of Islamic precepts. They want access to secular education so they can follow new paths in life that don't conform to traditional gender roles, yet they also seek to fashion a new pious self. They are searching for ways to become Muslim and modern at the same time, transforming both."

In short, the established meaning of Islamic veiling is undergoing a radical transformation -- from a symbol of Muslim female submission and seclusion in the private sphere to a badge of public, assertive Muslim womanhood. For Gole, this sign of stigma and inferiority is in the process of being inverted into a sign of empowerment and prestige.

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April 7th, 2009

Living the Divine Masculine, an Interview with Shantam Nityama, Sexual Healer

I conducted this interview a few years back for What Makes a Man: 22 Writers Imagine the Future where you can listen to the full audio, but it seems relevant for One Big Happy Family, too.

When I did the interview for KPFA in Berkeley, I was exploring the way men can, through supporting women, support a part of themselves. Nityama has taken this to an incredibly dynamic place, and spends his life offering sessions of sexual healing to women

This version is from the site Extatica.

RW: Tell me a little bit about what you do and how you came into this work.

SN: It is sex that brings us onto the planet. We must realize that if we have difficulty with the primal energy that brought us here, then we are going to be mired in self-hatred and be confused about the very thing that has brought us into being.

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March 21st, 2009

My Body, My Butoh

Brilliant short video about Butoh, one my favorite forms of modern dance. Butoh was born in Japan after the atomic blasts. It explores death, destruction, resurrection, presence, purity, horror, the sublime, beauty, the power of a simple gesture, and more.

I'm a huge fan of Sankai Juku, one of the most respected and revered Butoh companies in the world, mentioned in this film. The first time I saw them, with a beloved choreographer friend, I was struck dumb. I was in awe, transported. Butoh changed my life. It gave me something that has never left.

March 17th, 2009

Stripping Your Way to Success, from the Wall Street Journal

Wall Street Journal

Great interview about I gave about strippers in blockbuster films reduced to one line mid-way. But I'm not complaining, it's a great article.

By Lauren Schuker

On Sunday night, actress Marisa Tomei could take home an Academy Award for her portrayal of a kind-hearted stripper in the critically acclaimed film "The Wrestler." In a tradition that dates as far back as the Oscar show itself, Ms. Tomei is the latest actress to win Hollywood acclaim for playing a character with a job in the sex industry, such as a striptease artist or streetwalker.

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March 7th, 2009

What She Said.

From the New York Times:
 
Questions for Dambisa Moyo

The Anti-Bono

Interview by Deborah Solomon

Published: February 19, 2009

Q: As a native of Zambia with advanced degrees in public policy and economics from Harvard and Oxford, you are about to publish an attack on Western aid to Africa and its recent glamorization by celebrities. ‘‘Dead Aid,’’ as your book is called, is particularly hard on rock stars. Have you met Bono?

I have, yes, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last year. It was at a party to raise money for Africans, and there were no Africans in the room, except for me.

What do you think of him?

I’ll make a general comment about this whole dependence on “celebrities.” I object to this situation as it is right now where they have inadvertently or manipulatively become the spokespeople for the African continent.

You argue in your book that Western aid to Africa has not only perpetuated poverty but also worsened it, and you are perhaps the first African to request in book form that all development aid be halted within five years.

Think about it this way — China has 1.3 billion people, only 300 million of whom live like us, if you will, with Western living standards. There are a billion Chinese who are living in substandard conditions. Do you know anybody who feels sorry for China? Nobody.

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February 22nd, 2009

The End of White America, excerpted from the Atlantic

What do you think?

By Hua Hsu, for the Atlantic:

"Today, hip-hop’s colonization of the global imagination, from fashion runways in Europe to dance competitions in Asia, is Disney-esque. This transformation has bred an unprecedented cultural confidence in its black originators. Whiteness is no longer a threat, or an ideal: it’s kitsch to be appropriated, whether with gestures like Combs’s “white parties” or the trickle-down epidemic of collared shirts and cuff links currently afflicting rappers. And an expansive multiculturalism is replacing the us-against-the-world bunker mentality that lent a thrilling edge to hip-hop’s mid-1990s rise.

Peter Rosenberg, a self-proclaimed “nerdy Jewish kid” and radio personality on New York’s Hot 97 FM—and a living example of how hip-hop has created new identities for its listeners that don’t fall neatly along lines of black and white—shares another example: “I interviewed [the St. Louis rapper] Nelly this morning, and he said it’s now very cool and in to have multicultural friends. Like you’re not really considered hip or ‘you’ve made it’ if you’re rolling with all the same people.”

Just as Tiger Woods forever changed the country-club culture of golf, and Will Smith confounded stereotypes about the ideal Hollywood leading man, hip-hop’s rise is helping redefine the American mainstream, which no longer aspires toward a single iconic image of style or class. Successful network-television shows like Lost, Heroes, and Grey’s Anatomy feature wildly diverse casts, and an entire genre of half-hour comedy, from The Colbert Report to The Office, seems dedicated to having fun with the persona of the clueless white male. The youth market is following the same pattern: consider the Cheetah Girls, a multicultural, multiplatinum, multiplatform trio of teenyboppers who recently starred in their third movie, or Dora the Explorer, the precocious bilingual 7-year-old Latina adventurer who is arguably the most successful animated character on children’s television today. In a recent address to the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies, Brown Johnson, the Nickelodeon executive who has overseen Dora’s rise, explained the importance of creating a character who does not conform to “the white, middle-class mold.” When Johnson pointed out that Dora’s wares were outselling Barbie’s in France, the crowd hooted in delight.

Pop culture today rallies around an ethic of multicultural inclusion that seems to value every identity—except whiteness. “It’s become harder for the blond-haired, blue-eyed commercial actor,” remarks Rochelle Newman-Carrasco, of the Hispanic marketing firm Enlace. “You read casting notices, and they like to cast people with brown hair because they could be Hispanic. The language of casting notices is pretty shocking because it’s so specific: ‘Brown hair, brown eyes, could look Hispanic.’ Or, as one notice put it: ‘Ethnically ambiguous.’”

“I think white people feel like they’re under siege right now—like it’s not okay to be white right now, especially if you’re a white male,” laughs Bill Imada, of the IW Group. Imada and Newman-Carrasco are part of a movement within advertising, marketing, and communications firms to reimagine the profile of the typical American consumer. (Tellingly, every person I spoke with from these industries knew the Census Bureau’s projections by heart.?"

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January 8th, 2009

Oscar Grant: Wake Up America

"Those who eulogized Grant did not address the shooting, which was captured on video by at least two BART riders and has stirred outrage among those who believe the incident was tantamount to an execution. At virtually the moment the service was getting under way, the lawyer and union representative for the officer who shot Grant, Johannes Mehserle, were submitting his resignation to BART officials."

January 8th, 2009