one thing that is interesting about lana is that her art is very much about a womanhood that it centered around men–many of her songs are love ballads which emphasize traditional heterosexual tropes (video games, blue jeans) and she often expresses a kind of femininity that is about catering to men, sometimes in an explicitly negative way (ultraviolence)–but at the same time i would consider her work totally woman centered. i think she writes about experiencing a womanhood that is centered around men, but she tells that story for women: entirely from a female perspective, meant to touch a female audience (this is what makes us girls). i really love that. i think she loves women and like i feel like she loves the exact type of girl i am, and i really adore that to no end. she really speaks to me, sorry to sound like a big normie drama queen! i think themes of patriarchy abound in her work, and the way she explores those themes absolutely speaks to a feminine perspective, in a way that truly acknowledges the complexity and humanity of female subjecthood. sorry! just what i think. she puts words to things i’ve felt but never known how to say, and let’s not let the fact that she has lyrics like “let me put on a show for you daddy” eclipse the fact that she centers female experience in a way that is, tbh, really feminist imo.

Kylo Ren, Mental Illness, and Free Will: Heroic Villains

You know.  I’m pretty lucky, health-wise.  I have some mysterious joint problems.  They’re quite visible.  If I say “no, I can’t,” and get the standard push back of “well why don’t you try?  don’t let your attitude limit you!” then I can provide evidence of what “can’t” means by gracelessly dislocating my hips, knees, ankles, jaw, and shoulders.

I feel bad for people who struggle with mental health.  My thoughts and moods, though profoundly theatrical at times, impose no tyranny on my behavior.  I don’t feel like I have mental illness.  I feel very exhausted sometimes, but I never feel coerced to sleep in.  I have hobbies and preferences, but I’m not compelled.  There is never a situation where some pattern of thoughts or emotions makes me think, “I want to do that, but I can’t.”

I think people in our society have a really hard time grasping the idea of “can’t.”  Illness is, by definition, a lack of agency.  It is a form of coercion your body applies to you via pain, exhaustion, or discomfort.

I once had this stomach flu…so bad that I literally could not walk two feet without throwing up.  Sometimes a flu isn’t so bad; you can actually get up and walk around.  This is how we speak about the severity of illness: in terms of it’s ability to influence or limit behavior.  In a mild illness, a person can usually ignore the coercive influence of pain on the body.  However, behaving normally (as if you are not experiencing pain) may cause the illness to worsen, and then become limiting.  The end result is the same: you are being controlled.  Disease is like an extra person inside your head, telling what you can’t do.  If you ignore them enough, they get pissed, and take over.  Then you can’t do ANYTHING you want to do.

There’s this meme in the chronically ill community like, “have you tried yoga?”  It comes from this phenomenon where, when you tell people that you have an illness or disability that inhibits your movement, they reply "well have you tried yoga?”  The universal response to an assertion that your legs / joints / arms don’t move correctly is, “have you tried moving them?”  People think illness can be fixed by force of will.  People are incapable of processing the idea that someone CAN NOT move around like they can.  People don’t understand the concept of illness, as it communicates an infringement on will.

But I do.  I understand the idea of CAN’T.  It’s not hard for me to understand.

I don’t personally read Kylo Ren as mentally ill.  I think all of his behaviors seem rational in context, when you examine what his motivations and preferences are.  I like a Kylo Ren who made the decision to go to Snoke / the Dark Side on his own free will.  BUT, I do see that there is enough evidence in TFA (and the various apocryphal materials) to do a reading of Kylo Ren as mentally ill, if you prefer it.  I’m actually keen on that reading and I’ll be there for it if/when we see more evidence of Kylo’s lack of agency.  If it comes out that Kylo is a trauma victim, and struggling with mental health issues, I’ll be very intrigued.  This would mean that his free will has been severely limited–because that is the definition of illness.  It would imply that he is not entirely in control.

Don’t mistake me: that infringement on free will, it falls on a spectrum.  Not every person with health problems has 0% control of their behaviors.  But every person with mental illness issues has some behaviors that they have >100% control over.  Every experience means different symptoms and different severity.  Reminder: we speak about the severity of illness in terms of it’s limitations on behavior.  Some people are severely limited, some are mildly limited.  Some may not feel limited yet, but maybe they are, a little–like a person fighting a mild flu, in early days, making it worse by ignoring the disease instead of dealing with it.

If you’re dismissing Kylo’s motivation for his behaviors as “well, he’s psycho,” then you’re acknowledging that he’s sick.  People don’t choose to be sick.  They’re sick because they CAN’T choose.  There’s a reason that “not guilty by reason of insanity” (NGRI) exists as a legal plea.  The insane are not in entirely control of their actions.  If you read Kylo Ren as severely mentally ill then you also have to concede that he is not guilty of murder.  He’s a passenger in his own body.  If you’re reading “mental illness” as the impetus behind Kylo’s propensity to kill people, then you are literally understanding that his free will, in those behaviors, was imposed upon.  That character is a victim and deserves to be treated as such.

I think part of the reason people have such a hard time with “can’t” is because, when a person loses the ability to control their impulses–especially violent impulses–we stop seeing them as human.  They become “beasts” and “savages.”  From Dune:

“You’ve heard of animals chewing off a leg to escape a trap? There’s an animal kind of trick. A human would remain in the trap, endure the pain, feigning death that he might kill the trapper and remove a threat to his kind.”  (Reverend Mother Gaius)

In science fiction, a human is, fundamentally, a person who can sublimate their own needs on behalf of other humans.  We can cram ourselves into a subway car for our commute without going ape-wild and flinging dung.  We can sacrifice our own pain For The Greater Good.  You can see this type of boundary between human and inhuman played with in android horror films, like I am Robot and Ex Machina; do the robots rise up against their masters because they aren’t human, or because they’re too human?  (Tangent: I like to frame Han’s rathtars with that same dilemma.  Could they be sentient?  Are they violent because they’re senseless beasts, or because Han tried to imprison them and sell them like slaves?)

Enduring pain and sacrifice for the Greater Good plays well into the heroic narrative.  In fact, according to Joseph Campbell, it IS the heroic narrative (“a hero is one who gives of himself to something greater than himself” - Joseph Campbell.)  It is the story that prepares boys to give their lives in combat and girls to give their lives in childbirth.  This idea is not limited to science fiction and superheroes; Plato and Aristotle exchanged similar ideas about subjecthood, sentience, and submission.  Christianity and Buddhism are both founded on narratives of physical and corporeal sacrifice for Greater Enlightenment.

So it’s popular to see villains as inhuman, as beasts and savages.  But this creates a REAL PROBLEM OF PERCEPTION when representing the mentally ill.  A mentally ill person is not a beast or a savage and should not be conceptualized as such.  Still, it MUST be acknowledged that illness implicates an inherent lack of control, and that can be dangerous with SOME conditions.

A final note.  The reason I don’t read Kylo Ren as out-of-control or under-coercion is because I read him as a heroic villain.  A heroic villain IS able to sublimate his own pain and his own desires for what he believes to be the Greater Good.  He IS able to give up his own desires on someone elses’ behalf.  In this case, the someone else is SNOKE and is DARTH VADER and the FIRST ORDER.  "The Greater Good" - that’s in Harry Potter, and Rowling uses it to refer to a villainous imperative - it means the same thing as Loki’s “burden of glorious purpose” and C.S. Lewis’ “high and lonely destiny.”  These are all phrases used to describe villainous sacrifice of the self to something greater than the self.  They’re not out of control, savage beasts.  They have simply chosen a different God good. They are simply humans obeying a different religion than that of the protagonist!  Kylo does NOT give himself to the God of the Resistance (who, let’s face it, is Luke Skywalker.)  I think there are two possibilities, now, left open until episode 8: 

one, that Kylo is a zealous convert who assessed the political and religious merits of the Dark Side and chose to pursue that path because it offered him something that appealed to his values.

two, that Kylo is a troubled victim of indoctrination/brainwashing, that he is mentally ill, that he warrants saving.

I am very curious how Star Wars is going to draw the line between “crazy” and “different than what your parents expected.” Presenting religious behavior and calling it evidence of mental illness could be bigotted or xenophobic; presenting behaviors compelled by mentally illness and calling them choices will come off as ableist.   🎶 🎶 🎶 The ambiguity is a 🎶 problem. 🎶 🎶 🎶

The memories may remain, but even they are not safe, Or, the Uncanny in 12x18

My first reaction to 12x18 is the same as it has been for several episodes now.

Originally posted by literarycasualty

That being said, I think that the episode, while far from the brilliance of midseason offerings such as “Lily Sunder Has Some Regrets,” “Regarding Dean,” and, of course, “Stuck in the Middle (With You)” effectively continued developing an important season-long theme.

One I’m finally able to place and name after hearing Dean’s raison d'être, that phrase so oft-cited on The Road So Far, twisted by the (otherwise forgettable) MoTW, one that hit me square in the gut when Sam and Dean carved their initials into the table within their violated home.

Season 12 is a season of The Uncanny, or, Das Unheimliche.

(It doesn’t help any that the episode is titled “The Memory Remains,” perhaps a reference to the Metallica song. A band with an immensely popular song called “Enter Sandman,” featuring a not so pleasant depiction of the famed creature of folklore who helps children sleep. The horrific version of this character first introduced in “Der Sandmann” in 1816 by ETA Hoffmann - the story being considered a primary example of … the uncanny! Isn’t playing six degrees of meta separation with Rosie fun?)

The German word ‘unheimlich’ is obviously the opposite of 'heimlich’ ['homely’], 'heimisch’ ['native’] the opposite of what is familiar; we are tempted to conclude that what is 'uncanny’ is frightening precisely because it is not known and familiar. However, the uncanny is not actually the experience with anything “new or alien, but something which is familiar and old-established in the mind” (Freud). And so those unsettling moments of the uncanny don’t take place in spaces of the unknown, but rather, are about that which was considered safe being corrupted: primarily the family and the home.” “The Memory Remains” is an episode chiefly concerned with profaning that which is most sacred to the Winchesters.

Keep reading

Pirates and Corsairs from the point of view of the Ottomans

Excerpt from Joshua Michael White’s Catch and Release: Piracy, Slavery, and Law in the Early Modern Ottoman Mediterranean, University of Michigan, 2012. A very interesting book, and relatively accessible despite the thorny subject. I’d also suggest it to anyone interested in Barbary pirates (blow high! blow low! and so sail we!), because it’s a very complex and nuanced situation, and doesn’t deserve the black and white narrative it got. (Hardly surprising, considering that until recently, almost all research on the subject managed to completely ignore Ottoman sources.)

A Pirate By Any Other Name: The Ottoman Vocabulary of Maritime Raiding

[The Ottoman bureaucrat, poet, and historian] Mustafa Ali introduced the connection between the two opposing legal poles of Mediterranean maritime raiding—piracy and corsairing—and the two words most frequently associated with the practitioners of both—levend and korsan. These terms are those used most frequently in Ottoman Turkish to denote pirates, naval irregulars, and corsairs. The question of what separated pirates from privateers is not easily unraveled, however, for they were very much opposite sides of the same coin. A corsair is understood to be the particularly Mediterranean label for a privateer, one who engages in maritime raiding in the context of war (in this instance, holy war) and with the authorization of a sovereign entity. The corsair or privateer wages public war, privately. In contrast, to those “individuals who despoil others through privately exercised force and without urgent reasons to do,” the Dutch jurist Hugo Grotius wrote in 1605, “we give the name ‘pirates’ when their activities take place upon the sea.” Grotius’ definition of the pirate will serve us well here. However, even he seemed unsure where to place the raiders of North Africa or, for that matter, those of Malta, who on the one hand could be considered to be operating on behalf of a sovereign entity—that is Algiers, Tunis, or Tripoli, which could all be treated as independent states—in which case they were privateers, or not, given Ottoman sovereignty there, in which case they were pirates.

If the North African corsairs were indeed privateers from the perspective of Tunis or Algiers, they were not necessarily seen as engaging in lawful war in Istanbul when they targeted the sultan’s own subjects or those of states with which he had made peace. In that vein, Mustafa Ali admonished his readers in a verse to “think of jihad as an island: on its right is a sea of wealth, on the left is corruption.” The line between legal and illegal raiding was thin indeed. The right claimed by corsairing entities to raid and enslave any and all adherents of the enemy faith collided with political and legal realities that identified people by their subjecthood as well as confession and extended special protections to some. In such instances where Ottoman law was breached, the Ottoman central administration would still refer to the raiders as korsan or levend, but often in conjunction with epithets like rebel, criminal, and thief.

The meaning of the word levend is somewhat ambiguous and varied according to context. It could denote officially recognized Ottoman corsairs, independent freebooters with no ties to the state, or naval auxiliaries more generally. […] The word was used for auxiliary forces on land as well, though by the second half of the sixteenth century it had also acquired the meaning of “bandit” due to the fact that numerous demobilized infantrymen turned to this activity to support themselves. […] The Turkish words korsan and korsanlık, derived from the Arabic kursan which in turn was derived from the Italian corsaro, carry the meaning of “pirate” and “piracy” respectively in modern Turkish. In the early modern period, however, as some scholars have pointed out, they would be more accurately rendered as “corsair/privateer” and “corsairing/privateering.” Both Ottoman and foreign (Christian) maritime raiders, including those from North Africa and Malta, could be called korsan, whereas non-Ottoman corsairs/pirates were almost never called levend.

The inconsistency and ambiguity of Ottoman usage was somewhat mitigated in administrative documents by the occasional use of various modifiers and word collocations that help to clarify Ottoman views of such actors or their methods. […] Some of these, like harami levend (robber levend) and levend eşkiyası (bandit/outlaw or rebel levend) can be quite clearly interpreted to mean pirate—one whose actions were considered criminal by the state—though in some instances they might indicate auxiliaries gone rogue. In the Ottomans’ treaties with the Venetians, early references to pirates were to “robber ships” (harami gemisi) and only later in the sixteenth century did the texts begin replacing the sea-robber appellation with levend and korsan.

However, the usage of korsanlık to mean exclusively corsairing or privateering as we might understand these terms, with all their religious and statist connotations, was in fact not consistent over time and space. In the seventeenth century, even small-scale raids by Greek Christian pirates on their co-religionists in the Aegean, committed without state authorization or the cover of religious justification—that is to say, acts of piracy in the most basic sense—were sometimes characterized as korsanlık by Ottoman scribes. Thus, the semantic distinction between simple piracy and corsairing that some scholars insist upon was not quite as firm in the seventeenth century as has been portrayed. For our part, we are most concerned with acts of maritime raiding that the Ottoman center (and its European treaty-partners) considered unacceptable or illegal, and so referring to these as acts of piracy is a necessary concession for coherence.

How the practitioners of maritime raiding conceived of their activities, what justifications they employed, and how they selected their victims are questions that are worth asking. However, they are questions that are ultimately of less importance when considering an Ottoman administrative and legal response that was concerned with the subjecthood and confession of the raiders but otherwise made little distinction between them whenever the targets they chose ran counter to the Ottoman central government’s wishes. Besides, a significant number of those we might call pirates were not engaged in predatory raiding full-time, but did so whenever it was convenient and profitable. This was certainly the case for the English sailing ships that began to appear in the Mediterranean in ever greater numbers after 1580 and which, even when laden with cargo for legitimate trade, often raided indiscriminately. In 1599, for example, the vessel carrying England’s new ambassador to the Sublime Porte, Henry Lello, and the accession gift for Sultan Mehmed III tarried repeatedly in its journey across the Mediterranean to take prizes, including some belonging to Ottoman subjects. Beyond the English, many others alternated between raid and trade with alacrity. For us, then, the question is not so much who is a pirate, or what is a pirate, but when is a pirate? That is, at what point did maritime raiding become illegal, and what was to be done about it?

Unlike privateering, piracy is by definition unlawful. Pirates were the “common enemies of all,” a designation originating in ancient Rome and current in early modern Europe, one which the Ottomans by and large shared and espoused in their treaties with Venice and others. The jurisdiction to punish pirates extended to all. Modern linguistic conventions do not map well onto Ottoman usage, but we must take care not confuse popular notions of holy war with Ottoman conceptions of legitimate and illegitimate sea robbery, which could be and often were practiced by the same individuals and groups—the cessation of conflict often transforming privateers into pirates for continuing to do what they had been doing all along. This was certainly true for the Ottomans vis-à-vis Venice after 1573 and for the English vis-à-vis Spain after 1604. Thus, what remained guerre de course or korsanlik on the local level—or “customary raiding,” as sea raiders from Herceg Novi on the Adriatic would claim in 1627 after a peacetime attack on nearby Venetians—was to the Ottoman imperial center a criminal act. It was, in essence, piracy, even if we might hesitate to anachronistically apply the label pirate to those the Ottomans called “rebels” and “thieves” when they attacked Ottoman subjects or those of their allies. The tendency of outsiders like the English to call all Mediterranean sea robbers pirates when their Venetian victims called them “corsari” and the Ottomans “korsanlar” or “levendler” should not obscure the more important, less semantic, differentiation between legal and illegal acts of maritime violence.

All this took place in a context in which the practitioners of maritime violence increasingly operated outside the boundaries of declared war and beyond the control of the states that had once closely patronized their kind. That they were joined in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries by a plethora of local and long-distance actors of murky origins and no discernible agenda besides their own financial betterment only complicated matters. While we must recognize that the corsairs of Malta and Barbary were not the exactly the same creatures as the Corsican pirate captain cruising the Aegean or the Ottoman Muslim amphibious bandit prowling the Adriatic coast, they were all part of the broader pattern of maritime violence that arose in this period, profoundly connected by method, result, and response. The rise of violence perpetrated by uncontrollable non-state or quasi-state actors demanded that administrators, diplomats, and jurists tighten the legal net to include those who served the state’s interests and exclude those who violated them. Braudel observed that “privateering,” by which he meant the Mediterranean corso, “often had little to do with either country or faith, but was merely a means of making a living.” This fact certainly accounts for the extraordinary mobility of seamen across religious and political boundaries, adopting and shedding allegiances when it served their interests. Maritime work was a trade, after all, and sailors and captains were first and foremost tradesmen who sought work where it as available and profitable, including in North Africa.

The influx of English seamen to North Africa following the conclusion of England’s long conflict with Spain in 1604 provides ample evidence for this. In any event, the line between trade and raid—really just another form of trade—was not especially rigid, nor were the religious fault lines that were meant to determine the selection of victims. All this meant that it was the task of Ottoman authorities on land to better define what was and was not acceptable at sea, when, and why. The question of pirate vs. corsair ends up being one of perspective to some extent, but without taking into account self-perception, we may profitably refer to any targeted raid deemed unacceptable by the Ottoman sultan to be an act of piracy. Thus, the levend captain with an official commission who nevertheless conducted unauthorized raids on Ottoman subjects or the ships of Ottoman treaty-partners and whose actions met with official disapproval would be, in this instance, a pirate.

The primary, theoretical distinction between the Mediterranean corsair as opposed to the Atlantic privateer or the true pirate was the religious dimension to their targeting. That is, even if their attacks were unauthorized, Muslim corsairs were supposed to plunder and enslave Christians and vice versa, whereas the privateer attacked the ships of the sovereign(s) specified in his letter of marque and the pirate was indiscriminate in selecting his prey. Yet the gulf between theory and practice was vast and the continuum of maritime violence contained no lack of raiders exceeding their charge. The Muslim korsans and levends of the North African, Adriatic and Ionian coasts and the corsari of Malta and Livorno routinely despoiled their co-religionists. What they did not regularly do, however, was enslave them.

[@we-are-pirate , @we-are-captain, perhaps @we-are-lawyer]

My new class is:

Movie Kids: Childhood in Film, Fall 2017, at The New School

Course description:

“This debt to childhood is one which we never pay off.” -Lyotard, The Inhuman: Reflections on Time

“We’ll never be those kids/again”-Frank Ocean, Ivy

Despite their reputation of being difficult to work with on set, kids often make the best cinematic protagonists. Left to do the existential dirty work of being —the work that adults won’t do, can’t do, or have stopped doing—–kids filter and test the world in ways we don’t see adults doing, or only do in the form of regression. But childhood, which the philosopher Avital Ronell refers to as a “thwarted scene,” is more than simply a transitional state of not yet being an adult, it is an alterity to adulthood. At once profoundly dependent and autonomous, the figure of the child not only exists in the interstices and aporia of time, world, place, and subjectivity, it has its eye on the futurist con of normative, capitalist socialization, thus potentially offering transgressive breaks and possibilities for existence and subjecthood. In this class, we will study both specific movie kids, alongside the question of childhood in general—–what it is and when it is—in order to reflect on its symbolic and temporal meaning. What do kids see and feel that adults don’t? Why does the adult need the child? What does childhood need and offer that adulthood must set itself apart from? Where can the child go psychically and temporally that adults cannot go? How do childhood and adulthood intersect and breakup? How is cinematic boyhood different from cinematic girlhood? And why do we reject the child actor when they grow up? Films will include:  The Wild Child, The Bicycle Thief, 400 Blows, Cria Cuervos, Spirit of the Beehive, Paris Texas, Paper Moon, Kid with A Bike, E.T., Gloria, Ponette, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, The Sixth Sense, Crooklyn, The Professional, Ivan’s Childhood, School of Rock, Let the Right One In, The Omen, Life is Beautiful, The Shining, Last Action Hero, Big, Boyhood, and Netflix’s Stranger Things. Readings will include theoretical and literary texts.

Additional suggested films: Fanny and Alexander, Mud, Goonies, Oliver (1968), Days of Heaven (for the little girl’s POV), Birth, Mouchette, Wittgenstein, Naked Childhood (1969), The Omen, Los Olvidados, Labyrinth, The Never Ending Story, Vice Versa (1988).

Course readings:

1. Phillipe Aries, Centuries of Childhood
2. Freud, On the Sexual Theories of Children
3. Jacqueline Rose, “The Case Against Peter Pan”
4. Zygmunt Bauman, “Consuming Childhood” from Liquid Life
5. Margo Jefferson, “Starchild” from On Michael Jackson
6. Montaigne, “Of A Monstrous Child”
7. Avital Ronell, “Kid-Tested" from Loser Sons
8. Katherine Webb, “Fear and Truth Telling in the Six Sense”
9. Goethe, Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship
10. Carolyn Steedman, Strange Dislocations: Childhood and the Idea of Human Interiority, 1780-1930
11. Francois Lyotard, Intro to The Inhuman: Reflections on Time
12. Claudia Castañeda, Figurations: Child, Bodies, Worlds
13. Adam Phillips, The Beasts in the Nursery
14. Lucy Fischer, “Birth Traumas: On Rosemary’s Baby" from The Dread of Difference horror anthology
15. Vivian Sobchack, “Bringing it All Back Home” from The Dread of Difference horror anthology
16. bell hooks, “Crooklyn: “The Denial of Death” from Reel to Real
17. Ryan Hogan “The Little Wonder: on Fanny and Alexander”
18. Peter Coveney, The Image of Childhood
19. Dustin Freeley, “The Monstrous Child: Replacement and Repetition in The Shining”
20. A.O. Scott, “The Death of Adulthood in American Culture”

By showing West Indians planters as deviant and un-British, British abolitionists could demonstrate that their own movement represented the best elements of Britain’s national character. This specific historical context helps explain why white West Indians faced such fierce hostility in Britain. But other forces were also at work in the metropolis,where in the wake of the American Revolution new understandings of imperial subjecthood and of “whiteness” were starting to take hold. These were partly based on contemporary understandings of race and climate. A common theme in descriptions of the West Indies was that the hot climate affected the very metabolism of white residents, changing the balance of the humors. Not only did this endanger Europeans as they became exposed to new diseases, it altered their very personality. Heat increased both license (in the sense of devotion to principles of liberty and self-assertion) and licentiousness (devotion to the pursuit of sensuality). People who lived in hot climates, therefore, had personalities different from people in cold climates. These “hot climate” personalities were usually considered as inferior. Hot climates made people slothful, addicted to vice and luxury, and overly concerned with momentary pleasures. Unsurprisingly, these were characteristics also assigned to Africans, preeminently the people Britons thought best suited to and most shaped by hot climates. When Europeans living in hot climates shared some of the attributes commonly given to Africans, it was a short step between showing distaste for what the climate was doing to Europeans and to thinking of Europeans as “infected” by African traits.
—  Trevor Burnard, West Indian Identity in the Eighteenth Century

anonymous asked:

I'm actually really interested in you elaborating on that

(“the way that I don’t believe that patriarchy was a European invention is very, very different to the way that radfems don’t believe that patriarchy was a European invention.”)

the position that I hold that the person who sent that ask misrepresented as “she does believe that patriarchy was a European invention” is, that I acknowledge that the gender binary that we know today (with all of its quirks and particularities including rigid assignment at birth based on genitalia, the way that biological knowledges are produced in order to essentialise sex and thus justify those rigid assignments, the medical abuse that occurs to enforce those assignments, the particular fallout that occurs upon failing to adhere to those assignments, etc. etc. etc.) was imposed by European colonists (n justified by European scientists) who saw indigenous n Black bodies as monstrous n unintelligible with gendered embodiments that were inherently in between or outside of the nice, clean, civilised white binary of gender. that imposition was then used to further imperialist capitalism. (this isn’t to say that NO society before this had ANY conception of gender, including systems in which two genders were conceptualised–just that the particular way that all of this plays out–see the above brief list of examples–was a European idea + a tool of European colonialism). this is a well-established idea amongst decolonial feminists.

however, this =/= me “believing that the patriarchy was a European invention.” again, I do acknowledge that pre-colonisation indigenous societies had conceptions of gender (even if “gender” in most of the contexts in which I talk about it is understood to mean “the European colonial gender binary”). I acknowledge that these systems of gender were not immune from being exploitative. n I’ve spoken out against the idea that pre-colonisation indigenous societies were some sort of oppression-free havens for women (even while understanding that “woman” under the European gender binary doesn’t necessarily map perfectly to “woman” under any given indigenous conception of gender, just because they’re referring to different systems) / that patriarchy was a European invention because I think that it’s simplistic and racist.

but when I say that patriarchy was not a European invention I, again, acknowledge that the gender binary as we understand it today was nevertheless a tool of colonialism, and that patriarchy and “womanhood” did not exist in exactly the same way in pre-colonisation indigenous societies. I acknowledge that womanhood is a state of subjecthood under patriarchy and that it is not pre-discursive or universal. I understand sex essentialism (and all of the bio-medical knowledges + processes used to legitimise it) as a tool of (European) gender. (western) radfems, on the other hand, believe that patriarchy was not a European invention because they tend to embrace some kind of essential definition of “woman” based on the assumed existence of a pre-cultural or pre-discursive sexed body, or spirituality, or something else. they think that patriarchy/misogyny was the first oppression n possibly the one out of which all other oppressions (capitalism, race, etc.) arose (whereas I and feminists I agree with are more inclined to see patriarchy as a tool of capitalism). so the reasons that I have for disagreeing with the patriarchy-as-European-invention idea (that you’ll often hear, like, liberal anti-racists toting) are v different from the ones that radfems have for disagreeing with it.

The symbolic death or exclusion of Blackness from Humanism means that it is not ‘Whiteness’ or White supremancy but 'Humanity’ as an ontologically anti-Black structure as such which stands in antagonism with Black bodies, since its self-understanding of its own subjecthood as value is coherent only so long as it is measured against the killable and warehousable objecthood of Black flesh.
—  No Selves to Abolish: Afropessimism, Anti-Poltics & The End of the World, K. Aarons (10)
Reflections on 2015 heterosexual experiments

It is night it is night it is night and I’m typing on my cell phone typing into this New Year that passes while I like a somnambulist cross over unaware that I’m thirsty or that time passes my heart on fire for all the love lost and returned in a single dream of songs sung wildly in the splendid dream cave.

We rose
To where
Our voices would echo
Like Cecilia Vicuña the voice the voice I weep for the fragments of dream lost but I woke my soul still stirring from breathing in all the voices that echoed there, in that dream cave in the sky

Palace of sand
It’s my heart
Why has it become so hard to hear my heart?


Sing into my mouth
The feminists danced into the new year to Talking Heads, “This Must Be The Place” and Lana Del Rey and to Tove Lo singing about blotting out the agony affects that accrue to the body of the one who has just lost love
“You’re gone and I gotta get
hiiiigh all the tiiiiimmmee
To keep you off my mind”

Now that I’ve dabbled with heterosexuality I know the true meaning of pop:
To train you to love
To condition, domesticate and *generate* desire
To induce heterosexual desire
To shape it
Your object
The form of your desire
The tempo of your desire
The fantasies that emerge around your desire
To feed you narratives
A catchy melody becomes a mnemonic device for the heterosexuality scripts

I found myself wanting it
That forever-love
That obliterative, sentimental love
That home-in-you feeling
It is a feeling for femininity
A feeling for femininity I never had before
As I have always felt more alien than feminine

On New Year’s Day I woke with the thought
Should I go back to being a lesbian
In 2016
Should this be a kind of…resolution?

Because heterosexuality is anti-woman
To make heterosexuality work you have to become anti-woman
And by that I mean, unbecome
Or aligned yourself with masculinity and against women–to *become* through heterosexuality
I feel like I have something unpleasant sticking to my skin
Maybe heterosexuality is the feeling of having something gross sticking to your skin
You trade your subjecthood for the subject position of the girlfriend
But can you even be a full subject outside the heterosexual matrix?
But what are you as a girlfriend?
The subject position of an…appendage.

Becoming-girlfriend is the pits when you just wanna be weird sisters.

Maybe my 2015 heterosexual experiments were not like the scenarios I alluded to above.
Or were they?
I have been the “mentor” to young men who feel I am more powerful. In 2015 I dated a guy who would constantly fret about what he felt was my intellectual superiority and then I would have to nurse his singed ego back to health by apologizing for being smart or feigning stupidity.
I want that “top-in-life, bottom-in-bed” arrangement Berlant told me about over dinner once.
But is this even possible in heterosexuality?
What is a “powerful woman” in a hetero context?
Women are scorned and seen as weak for loving too much
Resented or seen as cold for not loving enough
In heterosexuality women always lose
Even when these men I’ve been with say I have so much more power than them
The truth is I forfeit a chunk of my power when I enter a heterosexual arrangement

On New Years Eve B, who was drunk, rolled into bed with me while I was brooding
She said, “do you feel like your full self with him? Like full JACKIE WANG?” And I hesitated before saying, well, no, but who do I feel like my full self with?
And then while going through old pictures of all my punky outfits I feel a pang of sadness thinking maybe that shitty dude’s criticism of my clothes got to me more than I thought, because my look/sartorial sensibility has been evolving away from queer punk to something else, not exactly bland femme, but something more subdue, like classy goth witch. Have I lost my élan? What am I becoming?

What I also don’t understand is why these men who are drawn to willful women like me resent me for being willful
Like–why not seek someone out who is submissive? Or is that just no fun?
It’s funny that multiple times my feminism has been attacked after not giving men something that they wanted

In heterosexuality, women lose psychically. Actually I see now that being outside the masculine recognition system for so long protected me, allowed my personality to evolve in ways it never could have if I had been fretting about making myself attractive to men.

Women lose.
This year I dated a man who wanted to possess me fully while he was secretly romantically involved with women in other cities
I even offered to be in an open relationship
But he declined saying it would “damage” our relationship
What he really meant was that he was entitled to my complete loyalty and fidelity, while he had no obligation to me.

But while women in hetero relationships lose psychically, maybe they gain something materially…?
Unfortunately I lost materially with my main 2015 lover, bleh.

Well Alex said she wanted to read some of my reflections on venturing into the world of men for the first time, so late. I sincerely do want to make things work w my current lover, who is not very masculine and definitely not as sociopathic as the main 2015 lover, but I know what I have to give up to make a hetero relationship work. Entering into a hetero relationship is entering into an alliance with patriarchy.

Capitalism makes it seem as though all legal subjects as legal subjects are equal. Thus consuming legal subjects are free to spend their income as they please, producing legal subjects are free to offer their labor-power for sale to any taker, moral legal subjects can maximize marginal utilities, and political legal subjects can vote as they please. All legal subjects are free and equal. In practice this enables the well-off legal subjects of the stage of consumerism to feel comfortable with monstrous inequalities that from another point of view might be totally unacceptable. This ideology that takes in only one narrow dimension of human existence becomes so hegemonic, that in the stage of consumerism it is difficult for ‘common sense’ to see behind this many-layered curtain. Rapidly growing inequalities sometimes become the basis for organization and struggle, but it is always against an immensely powerful ideology of legal subjecthood and triumphant ‘free’ enterprise.
—  Robert Albritton, Marx’s Value Theory and Subjectivity (2003)
The dialectics of anxiety: class with Badiou #2

“Anxiety is when we must know something we do not know. There is no creation without anxiety. There is always anxiety. Anxiety is the sign of the new Real. Too much Real. A Real which is an excess of Real. Courage is the effect which gives human animals the means to go beyond anxiety. There is a dialectical relationship between courage and anxiety. Anxiety indicates that there is really something new for the subject.”

The self-determining, autonomous ‘I’ was forged during the 18th and 19th centuries in relation to beings who fell outside of the bounds of cognisability in a burgeoning capitalist economic and political system: those whose labour was unfree, enslaved, and those whose lands were viewed as non-productive wasteland. For Marx, the legal subject is essentially living a phantasmic existence, rooted in the violence of abstraction and the commodity form. However, Marx’s critique of the chimerical nature of this subject has had to be stretched (as Fanon noted, discussed below) to account for the ways in which the alienation of labour (the precondition for assuming the status of legal-political subject) assumes a subject who is self-possessed, and also, how the capacity for self-possession and autonomy was thoroughly racialised and emplaced within a colonial logic (Spivak 1999; Ferreira da Silva 2007)”

Brenna Bhandar, “Dis-assembling legal form: Ownership and the racial body”

Although one of its chief presuppositions is the critique of the sovereign subject the conversation between Foucault and deleuze is framed by two monolithic and anonymous subjects-in-revolution: ‘A Maoist" and “the workers’ struggle.” intellectuals, however, are named and differentiated; moreover, a Chinese Maoism is nowhere operative. Maoism here simply creates an aura of narrative specificity, which would be a harmless rhetorical banality were it not that the innocent appropriation of the proper name “Maoism” for the eccentric phenomenon of French intellectual “Maoism” and subsequent “New Philosophy” symptomatically renders Asia transparent.
—  Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Can the Subaltern Speak

Maybe there is no way around subjecthood? This could be the case, since the forces of the market are interested in its production as well. For value to be attributed to an artwork it needs to be personalized and subjectified to a certain degree. As a product it relates to a person (its author) who in return seems to be somewhat contained by it. It is for this reason that many collectors expect to get a hold of a slice of the life of an artist if they acquire her work. The work is saturated with her life, her lived labour (lebendige Arbeit), and is valuable for this reason only. Now this search for value within lived labour gets even more pronounced in the current context of ongoing devalorization. A result of the 2008 financial crisis is that more and more desperate searches for value take place. The “personality” of the artwork is of course not a solution to the insecurity concerning value in art, it is a way of repressing and intensifying it.

So does this mean we have to continue elevating artworks to the level of quasi-subjects if only due to our own implication in current market conditions? Or is there a way of staying loyal to our belief in the agency of art without embracing such animistic scenarios that only feed the market’s desperate attempt to ignore the shaky ground onto which its values are built?

—  Isabelle Graw, Introduction to Art and Subjecthood: The Return of the Human Figure in Semiocapitalism (2011)

buriitanii  asked:

Oh wait! I got it. I talked to my friend, who knows way more about archaeology than I could ever hope to and she explained to me that a lot of individuals use artifacts without even trying to contact the group who has ownership of them. Wow. This seems like a major problem. :( I guess when I think of a lot of things that I've seen in museums, I never really considered how many of the items were stolen by archaeologists and historians. :( I'm sorry if I bothered you with my stupidity.

No, you didn’t bother us with your ask! :]

What I would ask is that non-Indigenous PoC think about what they reblog critically, and to avoid using Indigenous cultures as “inspiration” or reblogging historical artefacts for solely aesthetic purposes. A lot of times this makes aspects of Indigenous cultures accessible to appropriation by whites. Our aesthetics have specific histories, contexts, and meanings, some of which are deeply religious.

On the other hand, whites should not be reblogging anything about Indigenous peoples that isn’t about education or their historical and ongoing struggles worldwide. It’s really gross to see white folks reblogging stuff like random B&W photos of old Native chiefs, just because it’s seen as magical, or exotic or whatever. This stuff leads directly to white folks appropriating culture. And then when Indigenous folks want to take part in their culture, they’re forbidden.

“…[S]ettlers continuously seek to capitalize on what they understand as their country’s own ‘native’ resources, which include Indigenous cultures and peoples themselves.”

Decolonizing Feminism: Challenging Connections between Settler Colonialism and Heteropatriarchy. Maile Arvin, Eve Tuck, and Angie Morrill

“…[T]he logics of Western philosophy … are premised on the self-determined subject’s aspirations to achieve universality. Consequently, Native studies often rests on a Native subject awaiting humanity. In other words, if people simply understood Native peoples better, Natives would then become fully human-they would be free and self-determining … Native studies thus becomes trapped in ethnographic multiculturalism, what Silva describes as a ‘neoliberal multicultural’ representation that ‘includes never-before-known consciousness’. This representation which attempts to demonstrate Native peoples’ worthiness of being universal subjects, actually rests on the logic that Native peoples are equivalent to nature itself, things to be discovered that have an essential truth or essence. In other words, the very quest for full subjecthood implicit in the ethnographic project to tell our ‘truth’ is already premised on a logic that requires us to be objects to be discovered. Furthermore, within this colonial logic, Native particularity cannot achieve universal humanity without becoming ‘inauthentic’ because Nativeness is already fundamentally constructed as the ‘other’ of Western subjectivity.”

Queer Theory and Native Studies: the heteronormativity of settler colonialism.

terfs conceptualization of trans people as liberals who have never thought critically about gender/don’t understand that it is a patriarchal structure is the most incredibly obvious strawmanning. i don’t know a single trans person who hasn’t thought through those really facile theories and just understands that trans subjecthood doesn’t clash with the understanding that gender is constructed