Still figuring what it all means. I'll get back to you on that, but it's deep. He used three utterly complex phrases: "the color line", "double consciStill figuring what it all means. I'll get back to you on that, but it's deep. He used three utterly complex phrases: "the color line", "double consciousness," and "the veil" and the discussion of race in America has never been the same since. The second term wasn't a new term but he used it in his own brilliant and particular ways-not just one. I don't know who coined the first term. For all I know, it was Dubois, but I kind of doubt it. The third term is from the bible, but he takes control of it. Here is an example of his influence today. I read an article about the construction of race by Viet Thanh Nguyen and he started with a reference to Dubois and "the color line'. I was reading an academic article in Spanish about Afro-Ecuadorian identity and the author cites Dubois's positive concept of "double-conscsiousness" a number of times. While I have tried to read Souls in kind of historical context, I might just side with Jauss and interpret him based on his influence on post colonial studies and cultural studies today. If you weren't sure about reading it, now's the time....more
Douglass anticipated Althusser and Foucault's work on subject formation and Agamben's Homo Sacer and concept of the camp in this work and improved upoDouglass anticipated Althusser and Foucault's work on subject formation and Agamben's Homo Sacer and concept of the camp in this work and improved upon Hegel at his own metaphor whether Douglass was aware of the work or not all while trying to appeal to white liberals to end slavery peacefully though he eventually came to see that slavery wouldn't end without violence. In reading about his adjustment to life after slavery in the north, I felt like I was reading the story of a new immigrant. He documents the racism and statelessness and threat of capture that every escaped slave must have lived. This is an incredibly valuable historic record and current in its own way. At the same time, Douglass shouldn't be classified as an informant, but an accomplished author fully in his own right.
This is quite an important book in Hawaii and at the university I am attending, which is why my advisor suggested I read it. The authors who contributThis is quite an important book in Hawaii and at the university I am attending, which is why my advisor suggested I read it. The authors who contributed were passionate about their topics and experts in their fields, but not all good writers so I can't say I enjoyed the entire book. Some of the essays were harangues without much concrete evidence, others a bit too technical for me, but the rest I found highly instructive. The book was written in response to the way the Hawaiian government was handling the financial crisis and recession and in response to the many primarily social and environmental threats the state faces. I was most alarmed by the unsustainable use of water and the ways that development and global warming are going to threaten the resource of water further. This is a serious threat to Hawaii's future. They are islands - where will they get the fresh water they need? Desalination is costly and resource greedy and doesn't produce good drinking water.I learned how much Hawaii and Hawaiians have been through from the Māhele (land division begun by Kamehameha III and meant to give commoners land, but arguably led to haoles legally purchasing 90% of the land originally ceded to the non-royal Hawaiian people) to the overthrow of Queen Liliʻuokalani (clearly illegal) to annexation by the USA. When Hawaii was a territory the use of the Hawaiian language in school was outlawed and plantation owners brought in waves of laborers primarily from China, Japan, the Philippines (in that order) and Portugal and a few from Norway. Despite cultural differences, they banded together to protest their conditions and won significant gains. Another way of looking at Hawaiian history is how the land use changed or the way the plants changed. A big shift would have been from taro to sugar in the 19th century. The most wonderful thing this book showed me is how the language, philosophy, art and heritage of Hawaiians are significant to all of the contributors, whether local or Hawaiian, and inform both the source of their passion for their topic and also the way they think about their topic as well as how to go about improving conditions or solving the problem. The vitality of Hawaiian culture and the way it can be embraced by non-Hawaiians is beautiful and probably will be the key to Hawaii following a course of sustainability and tolerance, possibly leading the rest of the United States in this. This vitality is due in part to the success of the Hawaiian movement of the 70's and 80's which involved reviving the learning of the language, songs, stories, hula, and the growing of taro - urban guerrilla gardening style.
3 quotes worth sharing:
Coffman, "Reinventing Hawaii" p. 10: "Here was the upside: out of a determination that the sacrifices of war not be in vain, the statehood campaign was at the heart of a political strategy to create a novel multiethnic society, in which the rights of working people were to be secured and the colonial dominance of the Big Five corporations was to be curtailed. At the time, many people equated statehood with equality of citizenship-more fundamentally, an equality of being. With statehood, all became first-class citizens in the American democracy. From this widely shared viewpoint, statehood was a victory over marginalization and discrimination."
This is how I thought of Hawaii's statehood before I came here and it is so well articulated here. However, while people may agree on this, there is a Hawaiian sovereignty movement and questions about land the royal lands that have been held in trust since the monarchy was overthrown. What to do with the land continues to be debated in court. The case is extremely complicated, so I can't explain it here nor do I fully understand it. Below is part of the Hawaiian Supreme Court's decision not to allow the sale of these lands. I don't ever remember hearing language like this in court proceedings. It reveals a legal concern for the complex relationship people have with the land beyond ownership.
MacKenzie, Law and the Courts, p. 90: "Aina is a living and vital part of the native Hawaiian cosmology, and is irreplaceable. The natural elements-land, air, water, ocean-are interconnected and interdependent. To native Hawaiians, land is not a commodity; it is the foundation of their cultural and spiritual identity as Hawaiians. The aina is part of their ohana, and they care for it as they do for other members of their families. For them, the land and the natural environment are alive, respected, treasured, praised, and even worshiped."
There is something special here. If you thought that was bordering on poetic, there is an oil aloha (a traditional greeting chant) carved into Hawaiian state law:
Akahai, meaning kindness, to be expressed with tenderness;
Lōkahi, meaning unity, to be expressed with harmony;
'Olu'olu, meaning agreeable, to be expressed with pleasantness;
Ha'aha'a, meaning humility, to be expressed with modesty;
Ahonui, meaning patience, to be express with perseverance....more
This represents ground-breaking work in the field of diaspora studies. She demonstrates how overseas Vietnamese in diaspora and Vietnamese nationals hThis represents ground-breaking work in the field of diaspora studies. She demonstrates how overseas Vietnamese in diaspora and Vietnamese nationals have forged transnational ties, relationships, cultural sharing, and mutual support "from below," that is without state sanction or involvement of the US or Vietnam governments, through internet forums and a mutually developed music industry well before the normalization of relations between the two countries.
An equally important part of her book demonstrates how a staunchly anti-communist and organized sector of the Vietnamese American community sought to silence and control other Vietnamese Americans through vocal protests to anything perceived to be vaguely connected to the socialist government of Vietnam as well as personal intimidation and even violence. She explains the reasons for these dynamics and the result of an inaccurate depiction of the Vietnamese-American community as anti-communist. She shows, however, how this is finally changing.
Her use of case studies made this a very interesting read and allowed her to document her claims. It is also a unique text because of how she developed it over decades of research. It is worth quoting from her conclusion:
Her basic conclusion specifically about her work:Their reconnections dispel popular notions of Vietnamese Americans as merely nation-bound refugees. Their transnational acts, accelerated by globalization, have involved forming virtual communities via the Internet, organizing social movements, sharing music across oceans, creating art, developing new media outlets, finding political representation, and even carefully dissenting within this ethnic community. The participants are often mindful of existing obstacles to these connections, particularly the U.S. and Vietnamese societies and governments and anticommunist Vietnamese Americans. Considering these factors enables a more complex analysis of the diasporic experience while offering a framework for examining many other transnational phenomena.
Kieu-Linh Caroline Valverde. Transnationalizing Viet Nam: Community, Culture, and Politics in the Diaspora (Asian American History & Cultu) (Kindle Locations 2354-2357). Kindle Edition.
Wider implications:Culture does not change overnight. Dramatic events often bring forth major shifts in an individual life, but societies preserve old ways, slowly adapting to new ideas and formulating hybrid culture. My long-term approach has revealed how diasporic identities form through seemingly innocuous or commonplace events and through intraethnic forces, stirring us to rethink ideas around transnational connections, nation building, and community making.
Kieu-Linh Caroline Valverde. Transnationalizing Viet Nam: Community, Culture, and Politics in the Diaspora (Asian American History & Cultu) (Kindle Locations 2409-2411). Kindle Edition. ...more
I read this book for a course. The title concerned me. I thought it might be too basic, but it was very helpful in that one person gave his honest vieI read this book for a course. The title concerned me. I thought it might be too basic, but it was very helpful in that one person gave his honest view of different critical approaches as well as examples of how each was used. The examples proved the most useful bits. He also forced the reader to get engaged and do some thinking and analysis. He gave all of the theories equal time if not equal respect in that he was more critical of some schools of thought. He also included discussion about possible new trends in critical theory. The one wonder I have is why he ignored Ethnic or Critical Race Theory and Culture Studies. He lumped that into other sections or ignored them. That wasn't cool....more
This book wasn't what I expected, which was rather naive of me. If a person is going to write about discussing literature under a tyrannical governmenThis book wasn't what I expected, which was rather naive of me. If a person is going to write about discussing literature under a tyrannical government, I guess it is only natural that everything will be seen through that tyranny. The ways in which circumstances and culture change the reading of something is a really fascinating topic. Instead of focusing sufficiently on this, the author spent an inordinate amount of time reflecting on her wonderfulness as a teacher, her great taste in books, and every little feeling that she had. She might have revealed a bit more about her students' reading of the literature and their lives. The best moments of the book were when she was able to use the novelists that they were studying to connect to what was happening in Iran or within themselves. She did do an excellent job as well of diagramming tyranny and the degrees to which people resist it or comply. During the time I was reading this book, 2 pro-choice Michigan legislators were silenced in their legislature for saying the word "vagina" and the ways this injustice has been satirized and resisted with public theater made me think of how Nafisi and her students used humor and literature to resist being defined by the laws that restricted their freedom. I will end by quoting one of her students, who is now a poet: "Hardly anything has changed in the nonstop sameness of our everyday life. But somewhere else I have changed. Each morning with the rising of the routine sun as I wake up and put on my veil before the mirror to go out and become a part of what is called reality, I also know of another "I" that has become naked on the pages of a book: in a fictional world." ...more
It was a truly liberating experience. The passion and poetry that he puts into his logic is breath-taking. Even though he uses some real heavies of thIt was a truly liberating experience. The passion and poetry that he puts into his logic is breath-taking. Even though he uses some real heavies of the radical canon: Sartre, Freud-based work, Adler, Hegel, Cesaire, and Marx, his work is totally original and still feels intellectually fresh in terms of how he takes on racism. He drops some references that were new to me which I will definitely look up. There are some things specifically dealing with women that are definitely dated. Also, he deals in absolutes, which is definitely out of fashion. On the other hand, he acknowledges these issues to some extent. If you are interested in post-colonial literature, this is an absolute must-read....more
I saw an interview with him a few months ago and borrowed the book from the library the first week I got back to the USA this summer and I am so gladI saw an interview with him a few months ago and borrowed the book from the library the first week I got back to the USA this summer and I am so glad I picked it up. I loved this book though it took effort to read it. The power of the world vision he evoked and the poetry of his writing came together beautifully in the end - most of the last ten pages were incredible and I actually had to read them a few times to deepen the feeling it left me with - I didn't want to part with it. At the same time that I couldn't grasp all of what Okri meant to say in this work, the metaphor of boxing and the abiku came through so strongly. What is also quite interesting is that I almost felt like it cast a spell on me. He is right up there with Tutuola, Soyinka and Achebe - in fact this might have gone deeper than any of their work for me....more
I didn't know a man could over-analyze a relationship to such a degree that even I became a bit bored with it. This is partly because I have been in aI didn't know a man could over-analyze a relationship to such a degree that even I became a bit bored with it. This is partly because I have been in a relationship for over a decade and still find myself in love so I have either figured out a lot of what he is talking about or don't really want to go to his level of analysis because this could partly have been why his love left him. Still, he brings up some really interesting points that cover some essentials of philosophy - the most salient having to do with government and group membership. I think he left out the situation where people think they love someone because it makes them look good to be with that person, which may partly have been why Chloe left him, and unfortunately operates more with women due to the still uneven society we live in. His anecdote and analysis of suicide is really funny. Finally, I totally recommend this book if you have been unlucky in love or just broke up. I think you might find it helpful....more
This is an equally unusual and wonderful book - basically an academic biography about studying books with all of your attention. There were times whenThis is an equally unusual and wonderful book - basically an academic biography about studying books with all of your attention. There were times when I didn't entirely see how things fit together in this narrative, or agree with the way the author organized the book, but was very engaged the whole way through. Details that seem random at first make sense as she lets us follow her academic meanderings. At times she reads like a philosopher who seeks connections between literature and her life across history, emphasizing the importance of background research, and searching, sometimes unsuccessfully for proof that books and literature really do have meaning. Some of the details, stories and literature that show her grappling with these topics that stuck with me are worth mentioning. She shows that Don Quixote is actually about literature - he wants to be the literary character he loves. Isaac Babel, when he was taken away by the KGB, said, "I'm not finished yet." referring to the writing and understanding he was after, endeavoring to know "what a person is". She lived in Samarkand, Uzbekistan for a summer learning Uzbek and its classical literature. In the end, her experience in Samarkand convinced her that the quality of a culture’s ancient literature isn’t a good predictor of the interesting literature its contemporary society will create, nor even the value it will place on literature in general. This realization had two effects on her. The first was to signal the end of her youth and even give her an awareness of mortality. Secondly, she lost all motivation to study Uzbek or its literature and never bothered to translate the work of a 20th century Uzbek author her teacher sent her in hopes that she could bring it to a wider audience. While in Samarkand, I located the museum dedicated to Alisher Navoi, Uzbekistan's most famous author, which looked like it hadn’t been open for some years, corroborating her findings. Finally, in case you aren’t convinced that you want to read this book she gives a rather brilliant explication of both the negative fantasy and conversion narratives, using some highly interesting historical and literary examples, the most macabre being a bizarre wedding that Anna Ioannovna, Empress of Russia, staged in her ice palace. You know you want to read it now....more
It's complicated when you dearly love a screwed-up and beautiful country that rejects you or who you are forced to leave. I understood this before reaIt's complicated when you dearly love a screwed-up and beautiful country that rejects you or who you are forced to leave. I understood this before reading this book based on my time in Vietnam. Though I chose to leave, part of me is still there. Well, Aslan's book perfectly captures the complexity of just this situation, and though I picked it up to prepare for a trip to Uzbekistan, this book has evoked a remarkable number of connections to the people I have known, the places I have been as an ex-pat, and current events.
He paints a picture of the glorious history of the Silk Road and how, much later, while part of the Soviet Union women removed the veil and pork and vodka were added to the Uzbek diet. Meanwhile, the current government sucks the life blood out of the people through corruption causing many of the men to go to the Soviet Union and Kazakhstan for work greatly affecting the patriarchal family structure there. (No, a feminist revolution hasn't developed so far.)
Enter Aslan, our narrator and volunteer for Operation Mercy, who gets a carpet workshop going based on some ancient designs from the days of the Silk Road which are exquisite, enabling him to provide a number of very decent jobs for Khiva's most vulnerable citizens, mostly women. He also lived with a local family whose fortunes he was also able to improve. Though he is very respectful of local customs and fond of the people, he maintains a rather wry sense of humor about some of his acquaintances' actions, statements, and experiences which I enjoyed immensely.
Though that is all interesting, I keep thinking about the way other events in the world changed Aslan's story. In 2005, a massacre of 500-700 people in a devoutly Muslim community in SE Uzbekistan occurred. When the international community condemned these acts, Uzbekistan systematically expelled the majority of the NGO workers in the country which basically ended in Aslan's exile from his "home".
Tragically, the news of the day has me thinking about Aslan and his book again. Though many of us who live overseas may have become quite cynical about ineffectual NGOs represented by either ridiculously naive volunteers or jaded, if not arrogant, development consultants who drive around in SUVS and sip cocktails under ceiling fans among the other foreigners in any given city on the backpacker circuit, the reality is that there are a number of people who are dedicated to doing what they can to make the world a better place. In Mazar-i-Sharif, the town in Afghanistan where Aslan frequently went to buy his natural dyes, 7 UN workers were just killed today on April 1st, 2011, in a riot spurned on by a wacko burning a Koran in Florida. At the same time, I mourn their loss and lament the fact that politics forced Aslan to abandon the people he was trying to help in Khiva. However, as he revealed at the end of the book he has moved on to help people in similar projects in the region. When I go to Khiva in a little over a week from now, I am going to try to find the workshop he began and tell them Aslan sent me. ...more
I lost 3 kilos doing this diet which took 11 days, and I feel great, but I got really tired of cooking every meal and it was harder in a place where yI lost 3 kilos doing this diet which took 11 days, and I feel great, but I got really tired of cooking every meal and it was harder in a place where you can't get all of the ingredients. I am a big fan! The only problem is that I don't think I want to follow the plan forever. I like sinful things too much, but I have examined some more food issues during this diet and will try to stick to many of the principles of the diet. ...more
I didn't learn the meaning of life from his retrospective of speeches given as promised. However, I enjoyed finding out a bit more about my erstwhileI didn't learn the meaning of life from his retrospective of speeches given as promised. However, I enjoyed finding out a bit more about my erstwhile hero. I could hear his voice as I read, which was fun....more
I finally finished reading this great book. It is a compilation of interviews with well-known authors of the 20th century including Faulkner, Graham GI finally finished reading this great book. It is a compilation of interviews with well-known authors of the 20th century including Faulkner, Graham Greene, Toni Morrison, and Stephen King. Of course, those were amazing interviews, but I even enjoyed the ones with authors I haven't read. What struck me most is the discipline and drive they all had to write and the conditions that they preferred to write under. Also, it was interesting to find that some of them had insecurities. Many of them explained they had done a lot of writing before they were published that they deemed to have been crap. Most of them seem to have been most successful midcareer, and also said they were slowing down in their sixties, but couldn't stop writing. Finally, there were varying degrees of control or calculation on the part of writers. The most successful seemed deeply compelled to write didn't tend to teach alot, and were less calculating about what thye would write except for Toni Morrison. All of them expressed an amazingly accurate awareness of their importance and message as writers with alot of humility and good humor. None of the good ones really cared about the critics.
As a side note, I learned that Alice Munro set up Munro's books with her ex-husband in Victoria, BC - the first good book store in which I spent any time.
The most surprisingly fun and interesting interview was with Harold Bloom - he's quite a card....more