“In the cafe culture of upmarket bookshops, in the cultural promotion apparatus of festivals and chat-shows and prizes, and in Hollywood’s version of the art movie, Literature remains a timeless product of genius and feeling, directly apprehended in the heart by the empathetic reader. None of this is at all far from Harold Bloom’s reverential resuscitation of the Bard, or Lentricchia’s profession of an untheorizable love of literature, or what Sedgwick calls ‘‘the organization of liberal arts education as an expensive form of masterpiece theatre’’. Indeed, the literary canon never went away: it was always there as negative theology in deconstruction, and the Norton Anthology has simply gotten fatter. Literary criticism remains an important part of a marketing system and of a highbrow taste culture which it blindly serves.”—John Frow, “On Literature in Cultural Studies”
“…focusing on the technologies that enable interconnectedness misses the point, which is what people are choosing to do when they connect with each other, and why they choose to do it. Social media are merely targeted because they’re perceived as new and unfamiliar to institutional élites, which are always late-adopters. No one would seriously talk about targeting the phone system because it is being used to coordinate illegal activity, but the internet is considered fair game. Moreover, as plenty of people, including Labour MP Tom Watson, have pointed out, social media, like all technologies of connectedness, are neutral. What’s important is what people choose to do with them…. The essence of what Cameron proposes is the digital equivalent of the Riot Act, demanding that people stop connecting with each other in ways that threaten order. Like the Riot Act, it won’t work, because people will connect together anyway. Remove one form of social media, and people will find other ways to connect up. The only truly effective way of suppressing the impact of social media is to turn off the internet and the mobile phone system altogether — the Mubarak solution. And even then, people jury-rigged dial-up internet to communicate.”—Bernard Keane in Crikey.
“Like the concrete wall, the word walldivides Europe linguistically. Some European languages, like German and French, form their words for wall from the Latin murus. So the German for Berlin Wall is die Berliner Mauer. English, Irish, and other languages use another Latin word, vallum, a more military word which means a rampart. In Irish it became fál, and its possessive form has found its way into the name of the political party, Fianna Fáil.
During the Cold War era language often emphasized our differences. In 1961, the year the Berlin Wall was built, Yuri Gagarin and Alan Shepard flew into space for the first time. They did the same thing, but we found different words to describe them: Gagarin was a cosmonaut and Shepard an astronaut.
But if we look a little more widely we find how much the European languages share. English language newspapers reported that the East Berliners had beenimmured, and, later, they carried pictures of the murals that spread across the Wall on its western side. Both words, immure and mural, come from the Latin root murus that the Germans use. In the East the Wall was known as theAntifaschistischer Schutzwall—the Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart: German has retained its own traces of ‘our’ Latin word for wall.
In 1989 the division between the Berliners became so unabsolute and absurd that the people tore it down and so the Berlin Wall is not here for its fiftieth birthday. What remains are the vestiges of murus and vallum with which we can all trace our common heritage.”
“It’s an age-old argument – one that most will never change their views about – but the case that music with morally unpalatable messages merely reflects reality, rather than glamourises or incites amorality, needs to be reaffirmed more than ever. If, as Martin Luther King wrote, “a riot is the language of the unheard”, a result of “living with the daily ugliness of slum life, educational castration and economic exploitation”, then this is Dr King’s language rendered as art, and set to music.”—Dan Hancox in an excellent piece discussing London riots with grime MCs. m.guardian.co.uk
“The absurd claim that cyclists, who very rarely cause even minor injuries, are the ‘real menace’ on the roads suggests an ideology under pressure. Hostility towards cyclists is a conspicuous recent inflection of a more general positioning or interpellation of the citizen as one who identifies him- or herself as a motorist, and is ‘pro-car’. This has deep roots in the political and material circumstances of the long postwar consumer boom, and is integral to the conceptions of prosperity and the good life that became hegemonic across the over-developed world in those years…. Only in this historical framework can we gauge the full potential meanings of ‘vélorution’, for car culture epitomises the extent to which popular majorities, trade unions and mainstream left-of-centre parties have embraced forms and structures of consumption that eco-critics, to little effect so far, denounce as destructive and unsustainable.”—Vélorutionary? | Radical Philosophy
“The young people of the banlieue simply wanted to say (to adopt a slogan from Badiou): we are here, and we are from here. It was a question of asserting their sheer existence. It was a pure demand for visibility. This is the best example of the limitations of our much-vaunted democracy. There are enormous numbers of people who find themselves in a situation where their most essential demands cannot be formulated in the language of a political problem. It’s what Roman Jakobson called “phatic” communication—not, “I want this” but simply, “here I am.”—London? Remember Paris? An apposite quote from a Zizek interview I read a few years ago in Soft Targets.
“I can’t help but dream about a kind of criticism that would try not to judge but to bring an oeuvre, a book, a sentence, an idea to life; it would light fires, watch the grass grow, listen to the wind, and catch the sea foam in the breeze and scatter it. It would multiply not judgements but signs of existence; it would summon them, drag them from their sleep. Perhaps it would invent them sometimes – all the better. All the better. Criticism that hands down sentences sends me to sleep; I’d like a criticism of scintillating leaps of the imagination. It would not be sovereign or dressed in red. It would bear the lightning of possible storms.”—This is Michel Foucault, quoted by Conall Cash in an exemplary review of Korea’s Jeonju International Film Festival. Goes to the heart of calling this blog what it is called.