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Category Archives: Zeitgeist Movement
A retrospective view of Ireland from the far Left: The Irish Catholic considers Navigating the Zeitgeist – Monthly Review
Posted: May 22, 2020 at 11:43 am
Navigating the Zeitgeist: A Story of the Cold War, the New Left, Irish Republicanism, and International Communism308 pp, $25 pbk, ISBN 978-1-58367-727-8By Helena Sheehan
Reviewed by Thomas J.Morrissey for The Irish Catholic
Dr Helena Sheehan is a well-known left-wing intellectual. Her book, Marxism and the Philosophy of Science: Critical History, published in 1985, became a classic work on its subject.
She has now written her autobiography, and this is the first volume, covering her life from the 1940s to the 1980s, a book which is full of interest for a particular view of Ireland and the world today.
She grew up in a middle class Catholic family in Philadelphia, attended a Catholic school, and was more developed intellectually and had more intellectual interests than most of her contemporaries.
She encountered doubts of faith, but struggled against them and felt called to religious life. She joined the Sisters of St Joseph. She describes the details and rigidity of convent life in the 1950s and the absence of any concession to change.
After the noviceship, she taught in a primary school, read widely, and became caught up in the sense of change that affected church and secular life. She attended the Jesuit University of St Joseph in Philadelphia, read widely in philosophy, seeking answers for her doubts by means of reason and philosophy.
The values of Vatican II, and her desire for a better and more just society influenced her teaching in school. Parents objected and she was let go. It was the final straw. She left the convent and, finding little support at home, left home and lived rough for some time.
Praying for light, without effect, and seeking to solve the mystery of God by reason, also without effect, she gave up religion.
She embraced the freedom movement of the late 1960s and 1970s revolting against war, seeking a free life style, living in communes, while also searching mentally for justice and meaning.
A striking, red haired woman, with capacity for passionate debate, she became well known in socialist circles. She found that she was searching for something that fulfilled as many aspect of life as Catholicism had done. She failed to find it in one outlet after another, and eventually turned to Marxism for solution.
Marxism and science became a preoccupation. She lived with a fellow socialist. They had two children. Following her desire for academic distinction in socialist philosophy, she was absent from home for months at a time, leaving her companion to look after the children.
She visited conferences across Europe, spent months in the Soviet Union but recoiled from its lack of freedom, then visited East Germany. There too she was welcomed as a committed socialist, but again found the regime too restrictive. She sought always liberation as part of the socialist answer.
In the 1970s she identified with the liberation movements in places such as Vietnam, Cuba, and Northern Ireland. She came to Ireland in the 1970s because of her Irish roots and to assist the liberation movement there.
She linked with members of the IRA, some of whom she had met in their visits to America, learned the Irish language, and eventually identified with the Irish Communist Party and the Official IRA, both of which had support from Moscow.
As in her dealings with socialist groups in America, Europe, and the Soviet countries, so too in Ireland, she wrote freely of people and groups in terms of their commitment to socialist principles and their attitude to her. She made enemies, but she made many friends. Her driving energy and intellectual ability was combined with an attractive personality.
In Ireland, her relationship with her American partner came to an end and she settled down with a well-known Irish communist.
She obtained part-time lecturing in Trinity College Dublin, and later a professorship in Dublin City University, where she taught the history of ideas and media studies.
She has published a significant number of books and articles on politics, culture and philosophy. As regards her children, her influence ensured that they did not become Catholics. In persuading others to be open minded, it is a pity that Helena Sheehan closes her own mind on the matter of religion in its largest sense.
This interesting, complicated, controversial and very honest book has one large deficiency: it does not have an index.
(c) The Irish Catholic, reprinted with permission
‘Acts of Kindness Are Really Contagious.’ Historian Rutger Bregman Argues for a New Way of Thinking About Humanity – TIME
Posted: at 11:43 am
The world found out about Rutger Bregman in 2019 when, on a panel organized by TIME at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the Dutch historian lambasted businesspeople in the audience for trying to fix the world economy without talking about taxation. It feels like Im at a firefighters conference and no one is allowed to speak about water, he said.
Now, he has a new book out, titled Humankind, in which the unconventional historian tries to unravel even more of the conventional wisdom that, he says, actually stands on empirically shaky ground. Bregman spoke to TIME in March, while the coronavirus pandemic was spreading rapidly around the world.
Obviously I think Im right! The old fashioned realist position has been to assume that civilization is only a thin veneer, and that the moment theres a crisis we reveal our true selves, and it turns out that were all selfish animals. What Im trying to do in this book is to turn this narrative around, to show that actually, over thousands of years, people have actually evolved to be friendly.
Theres always selfish behavior. There are lots of examples of people hoarding. But weve seen in this pandemic that the vast majority of behavior from normal citizens is actually pro-social in nature. People are willing to help their neighbors. That is the bigger picture that were seeing right now.
I hope that the message of my book is extra relevant right now. Because its not only the virus that is contagious, but our behavior as well. If we assume that most people are fundamentally selfish, and if we design our response to this virus with that view of human nature, then were going to bring that out in people. Whereas, if we assume that most people are cooperative and want to help, then we can actually inspire other people. This may sound a bit cheesy, but theres actually a lot of psychological research that shows that acts of kindness are really contagious. They really spread throughout a social network, even influencing people who you dont know, who you havent seen.
The other thing this crisis shows very clearly is how dependent we are on certain professions. Around the globe, there are governments coming up with lists of so-called vital professions. If you look at those lists, you wont find the hedge fund managers or the marketeers or whatever. But youll find the garbage collectors and the teachers and the nurses, people who we often dont pay very well, but turn out to be people we cant live without. So just imagine what the influence of that could be for the longer term. Because theres now a whole generation growing up that will be impacted by this pandemic. Well all remember 2020 as an historic year. And for decades, people will be able to say, remember 2020. Remember when things were really tough. Who did we rely on? I think that could impact a whole generation.
I think everything starts with your view of human nature, because what you assume about other people is often what you get out of them. So if we assume that most people deep down are selfish and cannot be trusted, then youll start designing your institutions around that idea. And youll create exactly the kind of people that your view of human nature presupposes.
Im trying to redefine what the realist position is. I go over all this empirical evidence in my book, and I show that actually, what you see most in times of crisis is an explosion of altruism. Weve got more than 500 case studies of natural disasters from around the globe. And every single time sociologists and anthropologists find that its almost as if you push a reset button in peoples heads and they go back to their better selves. They will start helping each other. And this is the opposite of what weve been told for decades, for centuries even in Western culture, and what the news tells us every day.
Yes, but Im not part of the generation of the Cold War when the debate was all about capitalism versus communism or market versus state, right? I dont live in that binary world. Sometimes markets work best, sometimes the state has the best solution. During the Enlightenment, there were brilliant thinkers who realized that, if you assume most people are naturally selfish and you construct the market around that, sometimes it can actually work for the common good. I just think that in many cases, it went too far. What many economists forget is that this view of humanity, the so-called homo economicus, can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
You could do pretty much everything in a different way. In maybe one of the most radical examples in my book, I look at how the prison system works in Norway. They basically give prisoners the freedom to do whatever they want, right? Often, they even have the key to their own cells. And youve got prisons there with cinemas and libraries where they can just relax around on a friendly basis with the guards. Now, if you look at that, from an American perspective, youre like, these people are totally crazy. But then if you look at it from a scientific perspective, you look at the recidivism rate, right? The odds that someone who has committed a crime commits another one once he gets out of prison. Well, the recidivism rate is very high in the U.S. its one of the highest rates in the world. But its the lowest in Norway. So actually the realist prison here is the Norwegian prison, where inmates are treated like humans and as adults, whereas many American prisons where inmates are often treated as animals, as beasts. At the moment those are taxpayer funded institutions to educate people for more criminal behavior. Thats basically what they are.
Well, this is the big question hanging over my whole book. We do terrible things that are not done by any animal in the animal kingdom. Theres never been a penguin that says, lets lock up a group of other penguins and exterminate them. These are singularly human crimes. We can get the beginning of an answer if we look at this theory from biology that people have evolved to be friendly, what they call the self-domestication theory. And the idea here from some biologists is that theres a dark side to that as well. Because, friendliness, wanting to fit into a group can sometimes stand in the way of justice and truth. We find it very hard not to be included in our own social groups, to go against the grain. You even find it with babies, studies show as young as three to six months old that they already seem to know the difference between good and evil, and they prefer the good but they also have xenophobic tendencies. Babies do not like unfamiliar sounds, unfamiliar faces. So this is a tribal button that can be pushed in our brain.
But if you watch a lot of Hollywood and Netflix series, you might get the impression that people find it really easy to commit violence against each other. Well, we actually know from psychological studies and from the history of warfare, that people find it really, really hard. For example, during the Second World War, its estimated that only around 15 to 20% of soldiers actually managed to fire their gun. When they had to look the enemy in the eye and pull the trigger, most of them couldnt do it, but that doesnt mean that you cant condition people to do it, you cant make them push a button of an artillery device or something so that they can kill people from the distance. So there are all kinds of technological and psychological means to get people to commit violence, but it is not deep in our nature. For most people, its actually really hard to do.
The other fascinating thing unique to humans is that we blush. How could this ever have been an evolutionary advantage that we involuntarily give away our deepest feelings? This shows that we evolved to cooperate. The thing is, this works really well on a small scale. Now, when we settled down, 10,000 years ago, and we first started living in villages and cities and doing agriculture, we also lost sight of each other, literally. And some of the things that we evolved for didnt work anymore. And I think its no coincidence that this is also the time in world history where you see the first wars breaking out. The reason is that the distance between people has increased.
And so obviously the simple solution that you come to if you want to do something against racism or prejudice or all these tribal instincts in our nature, the ultimate solution is obviously contact. People gotta meet each other.
Yeah, thats obviously the classic example. And in very diverse neighborhoods, most people wanted to stay within the E.U. And the same is actually the case during the Trump election in 2016. Neighborhoods with very little diversity voted for Trump. It is something that you should always keep in mind when you design your institutions, like schools. It matters so much that from a very early age we encounter different kinds of different people, because thats what real life should be about as well.
Im optimistic actually. I think to be honest, that were living through extraordinary times. The Zeitgeist is really shifting before our eyes. You have to remember that even Joe Bidens climate plan is more ambitious than Bernie Sanders climate plan was in 2016. Even Biden wants to have higher taxes on the rich. This has become the new normal right now. So I really think that, what they call the Overton window, you see it moving. And you really see it with taxes as well. So the worst period was 10 to 15 years ago, when we werent even talking about it.
Now of course, the coronavirus is changing everything. Maybe this can become a bigger movement that you could call some sort of a neo-realistic movement, right, with a new updated view of human nature. Maybe this will be the end of neoliberalism, the incredibly powerful idea that basically conquered the West since the 1970s. The ideology was that most people are selfish. Now, maybe we can move into a different era, because this whole idea that most people are selfish is simply unworkable during a pandemic. Im not predicting this will happen. Its just a hopeful scenario, that may be accelerated by this pandemic.
Well, actually, my book is all about the power of human beings collectively, right? So individually, we cant achieve much. Were not very smart and were not very strong. The strength of human beings only really comes out on a big scale. So the same is true for climate change. Were never gonna solve anything about climate change if we keep making it into this individualistic discussion. Im not saying that doesnt have a role. I mean, the personal is political. But I think the message of scientists right now is that as a society, we need to go through this huge transformation. And we need to do something thats never been done before in peacetime. Move to half emissions in 2030 and zero emissions in 2050. That means that radical is the new reality. Greta Thunberg is totally right about this. Were now going to a world that will be three degrees warmer. And thats the average prediction. It could be worse. Now, Im living in the Netherlands, where big parts of the country are meters below sea level. So Ive been interviewing experts who say, its not certain that our grandchildren can still live here in the 22nd century. Its not certain that we can save this country. And so the stakes are incredibly high. But then again, its technically feasible. And weve done similar things in the past. So its not impossible. But this shift in the Zeitgeist needs to speed up quite a bit more.
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Posted: at 11:43 am
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Dear J.T. & Dale: My husband has been out of work for a year. He was always the main breadwinner in our family. In the past decade of his career, he found himself getting laid off two times in a row. He was at both jobs only two years when he had turned them around so much that they didnt need him anymore and thought they were overpaying for his services. As a result, he is really defeated. At this point, I am the top earner in our family and I absolutely love my work. That said, Im feeling a little angry with him. All he does is exercise and pursue his hobbies. Weve both worked our whole lives. When our kids were little, I even had a part-time job while I was the stay-at-home parent. So, I find it quite annoying that he is getting all this free time off, and I do not. I told him he has to get some type of job. Its getting to the point where its affecting our marriage. Any suggestions? I think hes going through a midlife crisis! Kathy
DALE: Your resentments are understandable. There was a time when working was optional for women, but thats never been true for men. Years ago, I heard someone say that while woman could think about whether to stay home or work part time or work full time, for men there were two choices work or prison. And thats still mostly true. There was a brief house-husband movement, but it didnt stick. Indeed, I believe the current zeitgeist is to look with suspicion on anyone of working age who isnt working. The good news is that the definition of work has become less rigid.
J.T.: I dont think your husbands situation is a midlife crisis so much as a midcareer crisis. Your husband built up his skills and specialties to the point that hes really only needed on a project basis at an organization. Once he gets everything situated, they can make do with less expensive employees. Even though he was a full-time employee, he really was a consultant, and his assignment essentially ended. Which is exactly what I would advise him to do he should consult with companies and charge them a great hourly rate. He would have to work only a few days a week and probably be close to the same pay he was making before. That way he can keep the flexibility and lifestyle hes currently enjoying and make you happy too. There are a lot of online organizations now that are offering contract work like this. One in particular is called GoCatalant.com. I recommended this website to lots of people in his situation, and theyve been quite successful in landing gigs. This could be exactly what he needs so that he can find a new level of work-life balance at this phase of his life.
Dear J.T. & Dale: About a month ago, the owner of my company bought himself a new car. Its expensive. Today, he held a meeting and announced we missed our quarterly earnings and there were no bonuses. People were seething. Is it right to speak up and mention the optics of the car in the wake of this information? Andres
J.T.: I wouldnt say anything. Just like how you choose to spend your income is your business, the same goes for your boss. I realize the optics arent good, but being the one to tell him that wont do your career any favors because hell likely assume that you are bringing it up because you feel that way too.
DALE: Yes, its not like the boss is going to give back the car and apologize. If confronted, your boss might even say that hes providing motivation to employees to work hard and succeed. So, instead of talking to him about his car, Id suggest that you ask him to mentor you, offering to be one of the employees who comes up with ideas to insure that the team exceeds the next quarterly goals.
Jeanine J.T. Tanner ODonnell is a career coach and the founder of the leading career site http://www.workitdaily.com. Dale Dauten is founder of The Innovators Lab and author of a novel about H.R., The Weary Optimist. Please visit them at jtanddale.com, where you can send questions via email, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803. (c) 2020 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.
Posted: at 11:43 am
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company.
Rap royalty in 2020 is far more a seesawing subjectivity than it is a finite objectivity.
The fundamental considerations once applied to such status chart-topping hits, airwave domination, and irrefutable rap talent, to name a few seem somewhat obsolete when shaped up beside wavering internet popularity, arbitrary industry co-signs and trending topic spectacles of the contemporary hip hop ecosystem. The King of New York crown, however, is still held to qualifiable standards.
Is it momentous-to-monumental stardom like that of the Bronxs Cardi B? Does it call for total domination of a particular sound movement like the late Pop Smoke? Or, is it symbolic of tenure, critical acclaim, homage and exceptionality like JAY-Z? These requisites are still up for debate. But, the caliber can at least be measured by one household name who has preceded the King of New York reputation for over two decades: Christopher George Latore Wallace a.k.a. The Notorious B.I.G., who creditably conquered these benchmarks, and then some.
Forever canonized in New Yorks cultural bedrock, Biggies organic climb to worldwide recognition, and now remembrance, is still one of the most compelling case studies of hip hop to date. His squalid Bed-Stuy hood of Brooklyn, New York reified his glaringly bleak, yet brilliantly masterful rap storytelling from as young as 17 years old. Biggie lived and lyricized stray bullet baby deaths, dope fiend gutters, crooked cop stickups, and slummed out playgrounds where most of his peers could only hope to survive.
Matched with this unassailable storytelling gift, sweatless flow on the mic and distinctively gruff baritone, Big was the fast-growing terror that none of his rap peers nor predecessors saw coming. The March 1992 publication of The Source magazine did, though, and properly magnify his artistry in its Unsigned Hype column for the rest of New Yorks rap assemblage to see. All four of his jams were basically a freestyle exhibition, The Source commended of his first untitled demo tape, which prompted his Unsigned Hype spotlight. Obviously, to come out as an MC takes a lot more than hype rhymes, but rhyme skills are the main ingredient to true success in hip hop, and when it comes to those, B-I-Gs got plenty.
From this visibility, Bigs reign proliferated into several music industry purviews. His Big Apple kingship was snowballing beneath him and becoming even more macroscopic among top music executive circles. His short-lived stint at Uptown Records quickly transformed into an inaugural and imprinted presence at Sean Diddy Combs then-newly-developed Bad Boy Records in 1993. It was only right, seeing as the former Uptown A&R had already invested sheer faith in this promisingly talented 21-year-old as raps next B.I.G. thing.
Bigs Bad Boy entryway amplified his demand in the urban music spaces feature artist pool too, another sign of his imminent rap domination. From Mary J. Blige to Michael Jackson, a Biggie verse was practically synonymous with a certified hit even if the track was already blasting up the charts. Craig Macks Flava In Ya Ear (Remix) and Totals Cant You See are still among two of Biggies best guest spots of all time, and during this era, solidified his position as a powerhouse lyricist. Hence, when the time came to unleash his now six-time platinum debut album, Ready To Die, the acclaim was already pending in the drafts of music critic reviews before the project even dropped.
The three main singles of the album Juicy, Big Poppa and One More Chance notched multiple placements on Billboard charts, most dominantly the Hot 100 and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks. In its entirety, Ready To Die was likened to Ice Cubes Amerikkkas Most Wanted, a solo project exalted as one of the defining hip hop albums in the 90s artistic zeitgeist. What took some of his rap ancestors up to a decade to accomplish, Big roared through in roughly 24 months. This journey also included his spearheading and mentoring of hip hops hardcore spitters Junior M.A.F.I.A. Consequently, the success of the group levitated the solo career of trailblazing rap icon Lil Kim. Bigs allegiance from his peers and community became so widespread that he even gained unanimous support as commander-in-chief in the East Coast vs. West Coast rap warfare, which devastatingly ended in the deaths of himself and the West Coasts indubitable leader Tupac.
Between Bigs abundance of critically acclaimed awards and nominations including four Grammy nods and fructifying worldwide expansion, he became the imperial ruler of not only raps capital, but the entire East Coasts hip hop renaissance. That lionization engraved an array of gems into his crown and took on several honorable forms: The savior of East Coast hip hop, as designated by AllMusic; the greatest rapper who ever lived, as decided by Rolling Stone; and the No. 1 greatest rapper of all time, as established by Billboard. His second studio album, Life After Death (released posthumously), hit diamond status. Twenty three years after his murder, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. A drive through Brooklyn easily turns into an outdoor Notorious B.I.G. museum tour, blanketed with murals and artwork featuring iterations of his face, lyrics and other likenesses. All of these distinctions are encompassed as a definitive blueprint of a card-carrying kings reign to be followed by the generations of rap after him.
To boot, Bigs competition among his territory was virtually nonexistent, barring Pac, the one coequal on the opposite end of his New York kingdom worthy enough to challenge him. As King of New York, Big moved with the respect, skill, following, material success, consistency, appeal and, ultimately, the authority to put up on the chess board. The new class of crown contenders and their reach for the throne collectively pale in comparison be it a facetious declaration like that of Kendrick Lamar on Control; a democratic decision like that which hails Pop Smoke; or an impudent self-proclamation like Tekashi 6ix9ines. As of late, the debate of who the crown belongs to and the criterion for such recognition is cracking headlines fandom wars and recent rap beefs. On the other hand, an overwhelming majority of votes still appear to lie with JAY-Z and Diddy, hip hops chief hyphenates among Bigs rap peers. But, their pivots to other objectives in the business and philanthropic spaces sometimes costs their removal from contemporary conversations and considerations.
Needless to say, the exclusion of two leading hip hop names shouldnt encourage loose usage of the title or a lowering of the bar for someone like 6ix9ine to jump above either. The next king may not have to churn out a diamond-certified album after six months of writers block or wipe out a clan of his rap nemeses in two verses. To the possible disgruntlement of hip hop heads in Biggies era, the crown just might adjust itself to modern times and factor in internet infamy and sweeping streaming numbers along with other nuances of millennial culture. There was, after all, never a handbook to complete nor a stage to walk across to earn the crown. There isnt even an amount of votes on a poll over who would determinately achieve the title.
But, the one certain touchstone for whoever is worthy enough to claw for it is that she or he will have B.I.G. shoes to fill.
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Posted: May 11, 2020 at 10:44 am
The pandemic has been a perfect opportunity to catch up with backlogs of unwatched films or binge-watch new series. Its been a tough time for local cinemas, but some arthouse film distributors helped The Broad Theater and Zeitgeist Theater & Lounge by splitting $12 ticket fees with them if viewers used links from the theaters websites.
Both The Broad Theater and Zeitgeist air a special screening of Up from the Streets, a documentary about New Orleans music, and a portion of viewing fees goes to a fund set up by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation for musicians affected by the pandemic. The film is available May 15. The films executive producer is trumpeter Terence Blanchard, who will participate in a Q&A via Zoom on Saturday, May 16.
Also recently introduced by the New Orleans Film Society is a channel to view 40 films screened at the New Orleans Film Festival. Below are details about film screenings that benefit local theaters and cultural organizations.
"Bacurau." When townspeople in a remote area of Brazil notice their village has disappeared from the internet, it sets up a modern Western as the town sits on the lawless frontier of global forces. The Broad and Zeitgeist.
Here are some cyber activities and events you can do while social distancing.
"Corpus Christi." Nominated for a Best International Feature Oscar in 2020, this thriller from Poland follows a young man from prison to the pulpit, as he is mistaken for a priest sent to help a town in need. Zeitgeist.
"Crescendo." A famous director tries to build a youth orchestra of Israeli and Palestinian children. Zeitgeist.
"Extra Ordinary." In this paranormal comedy, Will Forte plays a washed-up rock star who needs to find a virgin to make a deal with the devil for another hit. The Broad andZeitgeist.
"From NOLA with Love." The New Orleans Film Festival offers online screenings of 40 feature and short films by local filmmakers from its 2019 event via its website. Visit https://nolalove.eventive.org for details and a film guide.
"LInnocente." Director Luchino Viscontis 1976 Italian film about libertine 19th-century aristocrats was restored and rereleased in 2020.Zeitgeist.
Some help to get you through the waning days of lockdown
"The Hottest August." This person-on-the-street documentary encounters New Yorkers talking about their daily lives and hopes and fears about the future. See page 25.Zeitgeist.
"Mossville When Great Trees Fall." The documentary follows the struggle for survival of a Louisiana community created by formerly enslaved people and free people of color that found itself surrounded by petrochemical plants. The Broad.
"New York International Childrens Film Festival." There are two slates of short animated and live action films, one for children ages 3 to 7 and one for ages 8 and older. Zeitgeist.
"Once Were Brothers." The documentary follows the rise and fall of Robbie Robertson and The Band. The Broad.
"Roar." Anyone who binge-watched Tiger King may be interested in this 1981 feature starring Tippi Hedron and Melanie Griffith about people living among lions, tigers and elephants. The Broad.
"Saint Maud." A nurse who recently converted to Catholicism fears that she is possessed in this British psychological horror film. The Broad.
"Satantango." A seven-hour work in the slow cinema movement, Bela Tarrs film follows the lives of former members of an agricultural collective after the fall of communism in Hungary. Zeitgeist.
"Up from the Streets." Director Michael Murphys exploration of New Orleans musical traditions includes interviews with Terence Blanchard, Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Robert Plant, Sting and others. The Broad and Zeitgeist.
"Vitalina Varela." A sort of visual poem of shadows and framing, director Pedro Costas film is about a woman from Cape Verde traveling to Portugal, where her long separated husband has just died. Zeitgeist.
"Wild Goose Lake." In this film noir-esque crime thriller, small-time mobster Zhou Zenong tries to mitigate the damage to his wife and friends after he kills a cop while battling a rival gang. Zeitgeist.
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Posted: at 10:44 am
So much of our national politics looks like bread and circuses that one can miss important shifts in the political zeitgeist. Joe Bidens descent to the second circle of #MeToo hell may be one of them.
Yes, we are learning again the high price of double standards and hypocrisy, which are always with us. But while the Democrats bucket brigades throw water on the Biden-Reade wildfire, look over there at something else thats in flames. It is liberal progressivisms nearly hundred-year-old strategy of using moral condescension as a crude weapon against its enemies.
A distinction is necessary. Morality is about right and wrong. Moralitys insincere cousin is moralism, which grabs virtue off the shelf as needed. About every 20 or 30 years, the progressives come up with another moralized argument to delegitimize their opponents.
The most durable political weapon the progressives ever created was the notion that capitalism is immoral. This interpretation of private economic interests was popularized as far back as the 1930s with Matthew Josephsons The Robber Barons, a tendentious history of late-19th-century American entrepreneurs, whose title stuck as shorthand for capitalism.
The progressives positioned capitalism not merely as flawed but irredeemably immoral and requiring controlby them. President Franklin Roosevelt recognized what a potent and repeatable weapon this was, coining the campaign phrase the Ishmaels and the Insulls, whose hand is against everymans.
Moralism became a progressive go-to tactic in American political life because it constantly forced conservatives to issue denials of moral failure.
By now the appeal is virtually robotic. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer this week outputted his thoughts that Republican plans to give companies wrestling with coronavirus liability protection are going to help big CEOs, but not the workers.
Next came the great moral event of the centurys second halfthe civil rights movement. Once past the landmark laws of the mid-1960s, Democratic politicians quickly transformed even that into a moralistic weapon, routinely asserting that Republican policies would roll back the moral victories of that era.
Leave it to Joe Biden, looking more than ever like an innocent abroad, to resurrect his partys legacy of protecting Jim Crow when at a fundraiser he cited his good Senate relationship with Old-South Democrats Herman Talmadge of Georgia and James Eastland of Mississippi.
During Barack Obamas first high-minded presidential term, he gave speech after mocking speech about the wealthiest and the 1%. They came in like moralistic mortar rounds. In 2011, a liberal group ran a TV ad against Paul Ryan, then House Budget Committee chairman, depicting him throwing Grandma off the cliff with his proposed Medicare reforms.
Then, no longer content with isolating its opposition as its moral inferiors, the American left began to overreach. It targeted basic beliefs that had bipartisan support, such as the consensus about First Amendment free-speech protections. The campus speech codes arrived first but then came the mobs that shut down talks by conservative speakers, claiming they had moral justification for suppressing these speakers views on race, women and ... pretty much anything.
This was an important turning point. Previously progressive condescension at least operated inside traditional moral categories. In recent years, it has decided it could get away with displacing even agreed-on norms of right and wrong with entirely novel claims, such as demoting centuries of due process for the accused with believe the woman.
Standard measures of credibility devolved into credulousnessbut again, primarily in the interests of deploying the new rules as a political weapon. The ideas, or sentiments, were secondary.
The weaponizing of sexual-abuse accusations for the Brett Kavanaugh nomination was so over the top and evidence-free that many people eventually went numb on the subject.
Has the time finally come to agree the American system has waded into deep water by using cheap moralism as a political weapon? It wont change, not unless people in positions of leadership speak up.
Just because Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is reinstating due process in campus sexual misconduct proceedings doesnt mean liberals have to remain passive and silent. Former Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman used to talk in clear terms about defending moral traditions, but the Democratic left drove him out of the party.
The Biden episode suggests that political moralism is losing its punch. Progressives will keep trying to intimidate their opponents this way because thats what they do. But nonstop media eventually sucks the energy out of everything these days, even its allies.
Other than the Democrats downloading pro forma support for Mr. Biden in hope of getting the vice presidential nomination, hardly anyone cares one way or the other about his guilt or innocence, or his accuser. The publics normal instincts of concern have been worn down into a cynical callousness. Can anyone count how many times Bernie Sanders called some part of American life a moral outrage?
What lies on the other side of the Biden double standard is no standard at all. We are getting close.
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CBR Takes Issue With The Rising of the Shield Hero’s Socially Contentious Undertones and "Incel" Fanbase – Bounding Into Comics
Posted: at 10:44 am
CBR has become the latest outlet to take a tired swing at the wildly popular The Rising of the Shield Hero, as a recently published article questions the series socially contentious undertones and labels its fanbase as incels.
On May 5th, the comic book and pop culture outlet published an article declaring that The Rising of the Shield Hero Is Absurdly Popular for NO Good Reason, in which freelance article writer Timothy Donohoo purports to be baffled by the series continued popularity, opening his article by claiming that the recipe for a potentially terrible anime was cooked to perfection with The Rising of the Shield Hero and that the constant attacks on the series socially contentious undertones were well deserved before proceeding to examine how one of todays worst anime has become one of its most popular.
Isekai is easily the most ubiquitous genre in todays anime and manga. While this means the genre has a huge audience of avid fans, it also means that it has plenty of detractors, as well. Often seen as incredibly cliche, if not boring, the faraway fantasy worlds that isekai transports its heroes and viewers to all seem to blend together at this point. Add in a host of social faux pas, and you have the recipe for a potentially terrible anime.
That recipe was cooked to perfection with The Rising of the Shield Hero. With an overpowered protagonist whos seemingly never wrong, topped with socially contentious undertones, the series has gotten its fair share of well deserved flak. Despite this, it continues to find a fanbase, as evidenced by its consistently high ranking on sites like Crunchyroll. Heres a look at how one of todays worst anime has become one of its most popular.
The attack on the series continues as Donohoo boasts that the shows own reputation and critical reception are lower than dirt, and for good reason, taking issue with the rape accusation leveled against Naofumi Iwatani at the onset of the series for being at odds with the zeitgeist of the #MeToo movement.
Related: The Rising of the Shield Heros Raphtalia Wins Crunchyrolls Best Girl Award
Hilariously, after recalling how this plot point led to many Western fans in particular criticizing the series for its casual misogyny, Donohoo is forced to acknowledge that sentiment was significantly less felt in Japan.
Fittingly, the shows own reputation and critical reception are lower than dirt, and for good reason. The story kicking off with the hero being falsely accused of rape was especially controversial, with many seeing it as being at odds with the zeitgeist of the #MeToo movement, if not wholly opposing it. This led to many Western fans in particular criticizing the series for its casual misogyny, though the sentiment was significantly less felt in Japan. Regardless, though this plot point is played for laughs, many felt that the confines of a fantasy isekai might not be the best place to handle such a serious topic.
Turning to the accusations that the series promotes slavery, Donohoo dismisses Naofumis confession that he only enslaved Raphtalia due to his belief that his best bet for survival in a world in which his reputation is torn asunder is an ally who is literally magic-bound to follow him, and pointing to the overall concept of Raphtalias enslavement as supportive evidence for the characters real life reputation as an incel self-insert:
The show has also been accused of supporting slavery. Early on, the protagonist actually buys a slave girl and, instead of immediately freeing her or even feeling conflicted over the fact that shes a slave, Naofumi keeps her enslaved to him. Some have excused the plot element through the shows medieval setting, as well as the fact that the hero doesnt treat his slave in a degrading or dehumanizing way. Within the show, Naofumi justifies his needing a slave by saying that no one else would willingly work with him due to his fractured reputation. This hasnt helped the characters real life reputation as an incel self-insert' who feels put upon by the world.
Related: Cosplay: The Rising of the Shield Heros Raphtalia By Katyushacos
Finally, Donohoo argues that the show itself is just another generic isekai show, taking issue with Naofumis characterization and his displays of unreasonable skill, despite these moments being played primarily for their comedic value:
Even without these unsavory elements, the show itself is just another generic isekai show, and a poorly done one at that. This is exacerbated further by Naofumi constantly winning in some form or fashion, despite him supposedly being the worlds victim. He wins fights with relative ease despite his inexperience with the fantasy game world. Far more experienced gamers and fighters pale in comparison to the awesomeness of Naofumifor some reason. Other characters also constantly come off as incredibly dumb, either blindly worshiping Naofumi or simply acting stupid for the sake of the plot.
After putting forth these legitimate issues, a disingenuously baffled Donohoo questions the series widespread popularity.
Related: Rising of the Shield Hero to Get 2nd and 3rd Seasons
Asserting that the isekai genre is currently plaguing anime as a whole, much as the harem genre had in years before, Donohoo argues that the fact that some viewers may relate to Naofumi as justification for the shows label as an incel fantasy and concludes that the series has more notoriety than it deserves.
Despite all of these legitimate issues, the show continues to develop an audience. Crunchyroll revealed that it was in their Top 20 list of the currently most popular series, in the same ranking as much more acclaimed shows like My Hero Academia, Naruto and One Piece. One justification for the questionable series popularity is the current wave of other generic, poorly constructed isekai shows that seem to somehow find a loyal audience. The genre is currently plaguing anime as a whole, much as the harem genre had in years before.
The controversial elements might actually be a boon for the shows popularity. Some viewers may seek out Shield Hero because of its taboo, almost risque reputation, while others might even sympathize with the protagonist. This would justify the shows label as an incel fantasy, but it would also explain why rampant criticism has failed to break the shows viewership. Another interesting explanation for why the show is so widely watched may be its cult status in the West. The source material was one of the first web light novels to be translated into English, opening a new world of potential readers, and eventually viewers, to an underdog, no-name web novel author. This Western cult status is ironic, given that the West is where the series has seen the majority of its criticism. Nevertheless, the shows popularity, much like its eponymous hero, continues to rise, and it certainly wont be the last generic isekai to get more notoriety than it deserves.
Conversely, according to original The Rising of the Shield Hero light novel printing company Kadokawa Producer Junichiro Tamura, there have been no controversies regarding the series in Japan as Japanese viewers do not see these anime as controversial.
Related: Despite Detractors, The Rising of the Shield Hero Becomes Wild Success With Over 6.2 Million Copies Printed
Ironically, despite multiple admissions that the West is where the series has seen the majority of its criticism, Donohoo fails to consider that this criticism is largely unfounded and put forth by critics in bad-faith.
After the premiere of The Rising of the Shield Heros first episode, many proponents of social justice theory took issue with the use of a false rape allegation as a major plot point, accusing the series of promoting misogyny and calling for the series cancellation.
In their 2019 retrospective, Anime News Network ranked the series as the Worst Anime of 2019, claiming that the adventures of Naofumi were a rallying point for the worst impulses of some of the worst people.
This is further seen in the fact that the purported morally justified and rampant criticism leveled against the series has not prevented CBR from promoting the series in a positive light in order to draw traffic to their website.
Related: Crunchyrolls The Rising Of The Shield Hero Anime Attacked by Feminists and Social Justice Warriors!
Earlier this year, the outlet published an article speculating on the Dungeons & Dragons alignments of the series cast, which makes no reference to misogyny, slavery promotion, or incels.
In an article titled 10 Things You Need To Know About Rising Of The Shield Hero, Naofumis anger and distrust of the world around him is optimistically described as a part of his character development, without which hes identical to every other isekai protagonist.
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Rage is a quiet thing: How Hayley Williams and other female artists are writing their way out of trauma – The Independent
Posted: at 10:44 am
The opening track of Petals for Armor, the debut solo record from Paramore frontwoman Hayley Williams, feels like a deep sigh. Rage is a quiet thing, she sings, over a tapestry of breaths and hums. Rage... is it in our veins?
The album is a release in multiple senses of the word for Williams. Its her first record without the band that made her famous when she was still a teenager (though her bandmates, Taylor York and Joey Howard, worked with her on the writing and recording of the album, this project stands apart from their work as a unit). Emotionally and lyrically explicit, Petals for Armor touches on raw nerve after raw nerve: the breakdown of her marriage, her grandmothers declining health, and the inherited trauma that has been passed down through the women in her family. Every woman in my family on my moms side... theyve all been abused in almost every sense of the word, she told The New York Times. She began writing the album after entering intensive therapy for the first time, and being diagnosed with depression and PTSD. Trauma echoes through the lyrics, which often speak specifically to women. I think of all the wilted women/ Who crane their necks to reach a window, she sings on Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris.
The albums opening note of rage feels, coincidentally, in conversation with another album released this month. Torontonian synth-pop artist Katie Stelmanis, better known under her band name Austra, opens her fourth album HiRUDiN with the words: You make me so angry. Her previous record, Future Politics, written pre-Brexit and pre-Trump, was a contemplation of power structures in the outside world, but on HiRUDiN, she turns the lens back on herself, writing about the breakdown and aftermath of toxic relationships, and internalised queer shame. HiRUDiN came out of a lot of feelings of disappointment that I was able to channel into new forms of optimism, she tells me. Namely, the importance of healing the self, and how that can actually be a powerful tool in terms of broader activism and politics.
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Petals for Armor and HiRUDiN both exist in a lineage of albums by women reckoning with their pain; Stelmanis nods to Bjorks Vulnicura and FKA twigss MAGDALENE as recent examples of break-up albums that rocked her, and Williams made a playlist of inspirations for her album that included the very vulnerable work of Solange, Beyonce, and SZA. But Petals for Armor and HiRUDiN also share a lightness and an optimism that envisions not only a way out of that pain, but a meaningfulness to it. As Williams said in Rolling Stone last month, I dont think you can get to the good s*** without digging through the bad first. Its like you are trying to find the centre of the Earth how can you find that without cracking through limestone and heavy, hard things?
Ever since the #MeToo movement began in 2017, there has been the question of what its musical legacy will be. There have been angry songs, vengeful songs, satirical songs that have seized on the cultural mood. But a more satisfactory result could be more women, and victims of toxicity and abuse of any gender, feeling able to write honestly about their trauma without making it the focal point of their identity.
The music industry has never had its full-blown #MeToo moment, but Kesha came closest to sparking one when she sued her former producer and manager Dr Luke for alleged sexual and physical abuse in 2014, in a legal battle that is ongoing (he denies her claims). In 2017, Kesha released Rainbow, a cathartic purge of an album; but it was with High Road, released in January, that she reclaimed her party girl identity while celebrating her survival. Though miles away in sound, theres echoes of the liberatory urging of Fiona Apples Fetch the Bolt Cutters an album title that is also becoming a kind of zeitgeist-capturing mantra, encouraging women to cut themselves out of their cages and shout about their realities.
Apples album is unflinching, with lines such as, You raped me in the same bed/ Your daughter was born in. But its also a loose-limbed, defiant dance party, laced with frantic percussion that Apple created by banging on the walls of her house. Its a similar energy, if not sound, to that captured in Song For Our Daughter, the recent album from folk artist Laura Marling. On the albums release, Marling told The Independent: This album represents a triumph over trauma. I found my way through the very complicated reparative process, and it turns out to be quite a cheery album, which is a blessing.
Marling directs her album towards her future child, just as Hayley Williams, on Petals for Armor, also contemplates generational trauma, and how she might feel about her own daughter someday (If my child needed protection from a f***er like that man, Id sooner gut him...). What these albums all share is an envisioning of life after trauma: they are acknowledging but not dwelling on the brutality of the past, and celebrating their complex present, their hopeful future.
Both Petals of Armor and HiRUDiN are albums about healing. They rejoice in the body, and in the bodys place in the natural world. Williams was inspired by a vision of plants growing from under her skin, and the record is underpinned by an extended metaphor that depicts her and other wilted women as blooming flowers fragile, yet persistent. On the funk strut of Watch Me While I Bloom, she strikes a triumphant chord, pulling back her head to truly savour the howl of the line: How lucky I feeeel, to be in my body again. Trauma can make its victims feel robbed of their bodily autonomy, but here Williams wields hers.
Stelmanis, meanwhile, names her record after Hirudin, an anticoagulant peptide found in the saliva of leeches. Its how the predator gets into you, the traces it leaves inside your body when it sucks your blood. But in different contexts, hirudin can also be medicinal. Just as Williams envisions herself as a flower, Austra figures herself part of the natural landscape: on Mountain Baby, backed by the uplifting power of a childrens choir, she likens her relationship to the bittersweet work of climbing to a great height, her love interest the mountain. But amid the pulsating rush of I Am Not Waiting, the very next song,she sings, I am a mountain, before breaking into the delicious refrain, Im over you! Im over you!
There are several of these whiplash moments on the record, which flits between the highs of being in a codependent couple, and the lows of escaping it. Her writing reflects the dizzying feeling of trying to make sense of conflicting memories and emotions, when sifting through the debris of a toxic relationship. I only realised the theme of the record was toxic relationships after Id just about finished writing it, Stelmanis explains. It became clear that there was this linear progression of being in a difficult relationship, getting out of it, and finding safety on the other side. But in terms of track arrangement, that linearity didnt quite work, and instead you get this relatively chaotic back-and-forth. Which I actually think is a more accurate description of real life experience, as nothing is ever actually linear!
Hayley Williams new solo album, Petals for Amor is about healing(Atlantic Records)
The non-linearity will feel familiar to any sufferer of any kind of trauma, a boomerang affliction which can barely affect you at one moment, and leave you debilitated the next. On Petals For Armor, Williams follows a more conventional arc: her three-part release charts a trajectory from darkness to light. But, of course, its not that simple. Shadows cling to the records happiest moments: as she hints on Simmer, with that opening line about rage, you think that youve tamed it, but its lying in wait. By the time she ramps up the motivational surge of Over Yet, after a bright, synth-washed onslaught of positive mantras, she sings mournfully: For all the darkened parts of me... The suggestion of tragedy clings even to her upbeat moments, like the club-facing Sugar On The Rim, where she muses on finding good love after a scarring experience: Maybe we just had to feel it/ So wed know the difference.
Williams and Stelmanis both sound liberated on their new albums, as three-dimensional women carving out winding paths to recovery that encompass anger, vulnerability, grief, and lots of joy, too. For Williams, her video Cinnamon provides an apt visual metaphor for the album as a whole, as she sings about the home in which she lived alone after the breakdown of her marriage. In the video, she sees chameleonic creatures climb down from the walls and furnishings, and stalk her through the house, evoking the paranoia of a PTSD sufferer. She tries to lock herself away inside a room, only to find that the creatures are in there with her. They go wherever she goes. And so, rather than fight any longer, she changes into a bright-coloured costume, and invites her tormentors to dance with her. Her pain becomes part of her performance, and the result is beautiful.
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Posted: May 6, 2020 at 6:44 am
On Feb. 7, 1918, the artist Egon Schiele, then 27, once again looked to his mentor, Gustav Klimt, to be his muse. But this time, Schiele had to visit the morgue of Allgemeines Krankenhaus, the Vienna General Hospital, to make his drawings of the renowned painter. The day before, Klimt had died of a stroke that many historians believe was a result of the flu. Schieles visit resulted in three haunting drawings of a deceased Klimts head, showing his face deformed from the stroke.
That same year, Schiele began working on a painting, The Family, which was meant to be a portrait of himself, his wife and their future child. But before he could finish the piece, his wife, who was six months pregnant, died of the flu. Three days later, Schieles life was also taken by the flu.
Egon Schiele's "Gustav Klimt on his death bed," 1918
Norwegian painter Edvard Munch also found inspiration in the disease. The artist made Self-Portrait With the Spanish Flu and Self-Portrait After the Spanish Flu, detailing his own experience contracting and surviving the illness. These paintings, characterized by Munchs obsession with existential drama, speak to feelings of trauma and despair that were widespread amid a pandemic that killed at least 50 million people. Illness, insanity, and deathkept watch over my cradle, the artist once said, and accompanied me all my life.
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It could be easy to think that these works are the only famous examples of the impact of the 1918 flu on the world of western fine art. Though the ongoing fight against COVID-19 has drawn renewed attention to the pandemic of about a century ago, the influenza pandemic has long been largely overshadowed by World War Iin public memory as well as contemporary thoughteven though the flu had a higher death toll. In light of wartime efforts, news about the initial spread of the 1918 flu was played down in many places. Do not worry too much about the disease, wrote the Times of India, in a country where 6% of the population ended up dying from the illness. In addition, many artists were sent to war during this time or died prematurely of the flu themselves.
Egon Schiele's "The Family," 1918
But the flu did not go unnoticed by artists. Rather, the outbreak magnified the absurdity of the moment, according to art historian Corinna Kirsch. For many, World War I and the flu combined with political upheavals (such as the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the rise of newly-formed communist governments) and social issues (such as gender and income inequality) to create a perception of the universe as chaotic and hopeless. A sense of meaninglessness spread, and people started to lose faith in their governments, existing social structures and accepted moral values. Everyday life felt ridiculous. The art movements that came out of this period explored this hopelessness, tried to fight against it and showed the ways in which everyone was trying to cope.
The Dada movement in particular seized on this absurdity as inspiration. The Dadaists wanted to create a new form of art, one that could replace previous notions altogether. Collage became a popular medium at the time; many artists were dealing with the modern era and the horrors of war through strategies of cutting, reassembling and remixing, explains Kirsch. One 1922 piece by Hannah Hch, the only woman who was part of the Berlin Dada group, parodied a traditional German guest book by collecting Dada sayings rather than the typical well-wishes from house guests. One saying included in the piece was from the poet Richard Hlsenbeck: Death is a thoroughly Dadaist affair.
Edvard Munch's "Self-Portrait with the Spanish Flu," 1919
George Grosz, another Dada artist, painted The Funeral around 1918, depicting distorted human figures haphazardly overlapping one another in what appears to be a never-ending street, surrounded by nightclubs and buildings. In the middle of the crowd is a skeleton perched on top of a coffin drinking from a bottle. In a strange street by night, a hellish procession of dehumanized figures mills, their faces reflecting alcohol, syphilis, plague I painted this protest against a humanity that had gone insane, Grosz later said of his hellscape.
Though Dadaism was mostly nihilistic in its approach, there was also a utopian impulse at work with many artists who wanted to create an entirely new world and revolution, says Kirsch.
With this impulse in mind, architect Walter Gropius founded the Bauhaus School in Weimar, Germany, in 1919. The Bauhaus aimed to bridge art and design, training students to reject frivolous ornamentation in order to create art objects that were practical and useful in everyday life. Marcel Breuer, who started at the Bauhaus in 1920 and eventually taught there, designed furnishings that historians believe were influenced by the flu. In contrast to the heavy, upholstered furniture that was popular at the time, Breuers minimalist pieces were made of hygienic wood and tubular steel, able to facilitate cleaning. Lightweight and movable, works like the designers bicycle-inspired Wassily Chair and Long Chair met modern sanitary needs by being easy to disinfect and rid of dust build-up.
The rise of modern architecture and design in the 1920s was inextricably linked to the prevailing discourse on health and social hygiene, says Monica Obniski, curator of decorative arts and design at Atlantas High Museum of Art.
Wassily Chair, B3, design By Marcel Breuer at Bauhaus School
To other artists dealing with the horrors of the time, abstraction was a way to escape reality. Abstraction became a defining sense of that moment in time. There was a definite relationship [between] non-objective, non-realistic art and the horrors of what was going in the world, says Jeff Rosenheim, Curator in Charge of The Metropolitan Museum of Arts Department of Photographs. This was seen in many paintings and photographs made during the time. [View of Rooftops], a 1917 photograph of a desolate New York City scene, made by Morton Schamberg, is one example of this. The photograph, shot at an oblique angle, abstracts the cityscape in a Cubist manner and lacks any signs of human life. Schamberg died of the flu in 1918.
Further, in 1917, Fountain was unveiled under the pseudonym R. Mutt. The work consisted of a standard urinal, signed and dated, and thrust the art world into discussions of what was and wasnt to be considered art for years to come. It is widely believed that R. Mutt was Marcel Duchamp, but the subject has been up for debate. Art historian Michael Lobel argues that R. Mutt could also have been Schamberg. We arent able to know for sure because of the artists premature death from the flu. Schambergs relatively early death not only cut short his career but also means that we have little to no recorded testimony from him on these and related matters. In his case, then, the pandemic registers mostly as a telltale absence in our account of the period, Lobel has written in Art Forum.
Morton Schamberg's "[View of Rooftops]," 1917
John C. Waddell/Ford Motor Company Collection/The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Just as the 1918 flu pandemic was an inescapable part of the zeitgeist of the time, the coronavirus pandemic has already become so today. Though we might not know exactly how COVID-19 will affect art and art movements to come, the visual culture has already shifted.
Photographers discovering empty streets and how our cities look without people show a kind of sad beauty to these urban metropolises around the world, says Rosenheim. The empty cityscapes being captured and shared arent depicting the pandemic, but the effects of isolation and emptiness, psychologically. Others have argued that, as a result of the quarantine, nude selfies have become high art.
Andreas Gursky's "Prada II," 1996
Courtesy the artist/Gagosian/The Metropolitan Museum of Art
As was the case in 1918, the pandemic is just one part of a larger mood that predated the disease. Isolation, stillness and the impacts of consumerism were already themes being explored through art in recent decades. For example, Andreas Gurskys 1996 photograph Prada II shows a display case that is completely void of product and lit with sterile, fluorescent lights an image that now calls to mind news photos of store shelves left empty amid the pandemic. Gregory Crewdsons early 2000s Beneath the Roses series captures with a surreal ghostliness the desolate corners of small towns, evoking the urban loneliness of Edward Hoppers paintings, which are being disseminated widely on social media today.
These works were created before the novel coronavirus swept the world, but they speak to the current moment proving that, as was the case in the past, Rosenheim says, we dont need a pandemic to create chaotic, psychologically traumatic imagery.
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Posted: at 6:43 am
The late 1970s was a turbulent time for Britain. Mass unemployment, a new Prime Minister with her eyes on privatising national companies for huge profit, and Glam Rock. For the youth of the era, it was hard to find something to look forward to, but after a shop owner tapped into the zeitgeist from the New York music scene, a new movement began to form.
The first Punk single to be released in the UK was the 1976 track, New Rose by The Damned. The song was fast, simple and catchy. Despite this being the first mainstream British Punk song, The Damned were influenced by and had started as a supporting act to this rising Malcolm McLaren manufactured group, the Sex Pistols.
The Pistols followed The Damned one month later with their debut Punk single, Anarchy in the UK, introducing the Sex Pistols to the mainstream. They became the poster boys for the new Punk movement, which would seemingly eschew pop music orthodoxy and promote disdain for the conventional.
But was it everything they hoped? Was it everything punks now think it was? No, is the short answer...
By the time the bands second single, God Save The Queen, was released in time for the Silver Jubilee, they had been dropped from their EMI record deal due to swearing on primetime television, signed with a young Richard Bransons Virgin Records label, and had made headline news across the country.
Appearing on the front of the Daily Mirror under the headline the FILTH and the FURY, the Sex Pistols represented a new direction for pop music and seemed to endorse the idea of personal freedom, originality, and non-conformity. These ideals were attractive to the youth, and quickly Punk became fashionable. Bands would alter their sound to capitalise on the energetic and simplistic performances of the Pistols and join in the revolution, effectively conforming with the non-conformists.
After the rejection of co-managing the Sex Pistols, Malcolm McLarens former business partner, Bernie Rhodes sought to find a bad of his own. After attending local gigs and getting musicians on board, it wasnt long before he had control of his own Punk band, The Clash.
The band were the next big thing in Punk, and, under the direction of Rhodes, released a variety of singles focused on the troubles of the time. Rather than just spewing no future, The Clash rallied against the disastrous job market, declared apathy towards American music, and detailed events from a riot at the 1976 Notting Hill Carnival.
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