"Reading Sontag’s essays, all these decades later, the content is often interesting, but equally notable is the supreme self-assurance on display, the calm explication of the way things are. She was more self-conscious in the privacy of her personal journals, but in public her confidence was remarkable. Much later in life, she noted of her 1960s essays that “they were very insolent, like a young person’s work.” Confidence is a privilege of the young—I don’t know about you, but I was never more confident in my understanding of the way the world worked than when I was seventeen or eighteen years old—but she wrote those essays in her thirties, which is young but not that young.”
One of my favourite university professors compared my writing to Sontag’s once, when I was eighteen. At the time it made me feel overwhelmed, suffocated, silenced in some ways. Now it fills me with a strange mix of pride and regret.
Rules: In a text post, list ten books that have stayed with you in some way. Don’t take but a few minutes, and don’t think too hard — they don’t have to be the “right” or “great” works, just the ones that have touched you. Tag [ten] friends, including me, so I’ll see your list. Make sure you let your friends know you’ve tagged them.
Art Now by Taschen Books (specifically this edition my sister bought for me when I was a teenager which was formative as fuck and introduced me to Cindy Sherman, Zoe Leonard, Barbara Kruger, etc)
Real Indians and others: Mixed-blood urban native peoples and indigenous nationhood by Bonita Lawrence
It’s funny, in doing this, I realized how much the memory of where/when I read these books/who recommended or gave me the book weighs in to the importance I give them. I really struggle with these sorts of lists because I need more limitations, i.e. fiction, non-fiction. What the fuck does “touched me” mean? These are ones that shaped me, rattled me, spoke to me, and I feel like listing 10 is not nearly enough. A better list can be found here.
“The pictures shimmer and vanish, except when they don’t, because sometimes, when you close your eyes, a picture lingers, unwanted and unerasable, coating the insides of your eyelids the way a daguerreotype’s mercury fumes coat a plate of silver with a sitter’s wraith.”—Watching the Killing by Jill Lepore (Sept 4, 2014)
“The self-portrait in the Western avant-garde tradition is a celebration of unlikability, the unorthodox, the unhinged, the unusual (the list of “un”s could go on). It’s in this spirit that the artists in Self-Timer Stories are working. And that strategy contradicts with the function of the online selfie, which is there to get and keep followers, to accumulate likes, and to show the world how likable you are. This show confirms that unlikable can be fascinating, and that what visual culture often deems agreeable in a woman can be problematic.”—Before Selfies, There Were Self-Timers by Daniel Larkin (September 4, 2014)
Really into writers/work that makes clear distinctions between selfies vs self-portraits, the similarities but the important differences between the two. Effort/lessness. Timers. Trinkets. The idea that once only the person developing the film would see it and whoever the person who took it would decided to share it with. Now the instantaneousness, the broadcasting, the vulnerability has shifted.
“Art not as investment but as divestment — pulling off the vestments, stripping down. No hieratic garb, no fungible currency: we get to make what we make because we cut it out of the clothes we were wearing when we wept.”—
•Tropes Vs. Women in Video Games: Women as Background Decoration: Part 2. TRIGGER WARNING: some very upsetting in-game footage of violence against women. This video is the most recent in Feminist Frequency‘s incredible crowdfunded video series Tropes Vs. Women in Video Games (more herehereherehere and here), which through video essays centered around game footage reveal the most insidious patriarchal and violent misogynist tropes in video games. Host and writer Anita Sarkeesian has beenparticularly targeted by misogynist threats.
•Zoe Quinn’s Depression Quest: An interactive, educational story game about depression and the often very difficult and personal methods required to overcome it. The game is available for free on Steam–it’s pay what you will–but if you can afford it, consider buying the beautiful game to support Quinn, who has faced near constant harassment since the game’s release.
A big big thanks to TNI contributor Ben Gabriel (@Benladen) without whom this list would only be a shell of its current self. Thank yous also to Lauren Naturale (@lnaturale), Twitter users FKA Stamens (@33mhz) and Kamin Katze (@_kaminkatze), everyone who spread the call for submissions, and anyone who contributes more to the syllabus in the future!
“I spent eight days in Ferguson, and in that time I developed a kind of between-the-world-and-Ferguson view of the events surrounding Brown’s death. I was once a linebacker-sized eighteen-year-old, too. What I knew then, what black people have been required to know, is that there are few things more dangerous than the perception that one is a danger. I’m embarrassed to recall that my adolescent love of words doubled as a strategy to assuage those fears; it was both a pitiable desire for acceptance and a practical necessity for survival. I know, to this day, the element of inadvertent intimidation that colors the most innocuous interactions, particularly with white people. There are protocols for this. I sometimes let slip that I’m a professor or that I’m scarcely even familiar with the rules of football, minor biographical facts that stand in for a broader, unspoken statement of reassurance: there is no danger here. And the result is civil small talk and feeble smiles and a sense of having compromised. Other times, in an elevator or crossing a darkened parking lot, when I am six feet away but the world remains between us, I remain silent and simply let whatever miasma of stereotype or fear might be there fill the void.”—Between the World and Ferguson by Jelani Cobb (August 26, 2014)
“It is a fashion that has spawned a slew of neologisms among postmodern geographers: “dead zone,” “nameless space,” “blank space,” “liminal space,” “urban void,” “terrain vague, “gapspace,” “drosscape.”—Alastair Bonnett, Unruly Places: Lost Spaces, Secret Cities, and Other Inscrutable Geographies. (via batarde)
“Every time police brutality goes unrecognized, is excused, or worse yet, is lauded by those who think victims must deserve it by virtue of their address and skin color, it damages our society. If the police are meant to protect and serve, then the question of who they are protecting, and how they are serving, must be asked and answered.”—Mykki Kendall, in How Social Media Changed the Conversation on #Ferguson (August 17, 2014)
To Supplement Dr. Christina Sharpe’s essay, Black Life, Annotated, TNI asked Sharpe to create a syllabus for further reading on the subject and she graciously obliged, with help from Mariame Kaba and Dr. Tamara Nopper.
Introduction to The Prison Industrial Complex
I recommend everything on the blog Prison Culture “How the PIC Structures Our World…”
“Which cases galvanize activists into action, and which are ignored completely? In the wake of the Jena 6, Troy Davis, Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, and other high profile cases, I have taken note of the patterns that structure political appeals, particularly the way
innocence becomes a necessary precondition for the launching of anti-racist political campaigns. These campaigns often center on prosecuting and harshly punishing the individuals responsible for overt and locatable acts of racist violence, thus positioning the State and the criminal justice system as an ally and protector of the oppressed.”—Against Innocence: Race, Gender, and the Politics of Safety (via ninjabikeslut)