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"Method of this work:
literary montage.
I have nothing to say only to show."
(Passagenwerk (1927 - 1940) - Walter Benjamin)

2005, May 31; 23:37 ::: Yuji Hasegawa

Yuji Hasegawa
image sourced here.

2005, May 31; 22:51 ::: Working class culture

Working class culture is a range of cultures created by or popular among working class people. The cultures can be contrasted with high culture and folk culture and are sometimes equated with popular culture and low culture (the counterpart of high culture).

Working class culture is extremely geographically diverse, leading some to question whether the cultures have anything in common. Many socialists with a class struggle viewpoint see its importance as arising from the proletariat they champion. Some states which claim to be Communist have declared an official working class culture, most notable socialist realism, which aims to glorify the worker. It should be noted that glorification of the worker in abstract is seldom a feature of independent working class cultures. Others socialists such as Lenin believed that there could be no authentic proletarian culture free from capitalism, nor that high culture should not be outside the experience of workers.

Working class cultures developed alongside the working class itself, during the Industrial Revolution. As most of the new proletariat were former peasants, so the cultures took on much of the localised folk culture. This was soon altered by the changed conditions of social relationships and the increased mobility of the workforce, and later by the marketing of mass-produced cultural artefacts such as prints and ornaments and events such as music hall and later cinema. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Working_class_culture [May 2005]

The proletariat (from Latin proles, offspring) is a term used to identify a lower social class; a member of such a class is called a proletarian. Originally it was identified as those people who have no other wealth than their sons; the term was initially used in a derogatory sense, until Karl Marx used it as a positive term to identify what he termed the working class. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proletariat [Jun 2005]

see also: culture - class

2005, May 31; 22:51 ::: Selected censorship incidents

1497 - Savonarola promotes 'bonfire of vanities' in Florence

1558 - 'fig leaves' added to Michelangelo's Last Judgement

1573 - Veronese ordered to 'correct' his Last Supper

1832 - Daumier punished for caricature of Louis-Philippe by six months in prison

1873 - Comstock Act in US

1898 - Klimt's Vienna Sezession 'Minotaur' poster emasculated

1918 - UK ban on reproduction of CR Nevinson's Paths of Glory

1933 - Rockefeller Center mural by Diego Rivera destroyed after featuring image of Lenin

1934 - Cadmus' The Fleet's In! withdrawn from PWAP exhibition at Corcoran Gallery in Washington

1938 - Entartete Kunst exhibition in Munich and further purging of official collections in Germany

1961 - suppression of Siqueiros murals in Mexico City

1964 - Warhol's Thirteen Most Wanted Men mural at New York World's Fair painted over

1989 - Corcoran Gallery cancels Mapplethorpe exhibition

1997 - 'Piss Christ' controversy at National Gallery of Victoria

2001 Taliban destroys Bamiyan sculptures in Afghanistan

--http://www.caslon.com.au/censorshipguide13.htm [Feb 2005]

Caslon Analytics censorship and free speech guide

This guide explores censorship, regulation of offensive material and free speech in the digital environment. It includes discussion of freedom of information, archives and whistleblowing legislation. --http://www.caslon.com.au/censorshipguide.htm [Feb 2005]

see also: censorship

2005, May 31; 22:23 ::: The Midnight Eye Guide to New Japanese Film (2004) - Tom Mes, Jasper Sharp

The Midnight Eye Guide to New Japanese Film (2004) - Tom Mes, Jasper Sharp [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

"All you need to know about the cutting edge of the new Japanese film genre. Animated, inventive and imaginative, violent, and cool ... a cinema that has reinvented itself." -- Donald Richie, author of A Hundred Years of Japanese Film

Book Description
An eye-opening portrait of a vibrant film culture, The Midnight Eye Guide to New Japanese Film is the most comprehensive study of the Japanese filmmaking scene yet written, featuring all-new material from the co-editors of the popular website MidnightEye.com. Tom Mes and Jasper Sharp explore the astounding resurgence of Japanese cinema, both live action and animated, profiling 19 contemporary Japanese filmmakers, from the well-known (Kitano, Miike, Miyazaki) to the up-and-coming (Naomi Kawase, Satoshi Kon, Shinya Tsukamoto) and reviewing 97 of their recent films. With 100+ images from behind and in front of the camera, this is a book any film lover will savor. Foreword by Hideo Nakata, director of Ringu.

Tom Mes (in Paris) and Jasper Sharp (in Tokyo) co-edit Midnighteye.com, the premier English-language website on Japanese cinema.

see also: Tom Mes - Japanese cinema

2005, May 31; 14:17 ::: UK Underground

The Underground/counterculture Movement in the UK was linked to the Underground culture in America but had a number of key figures of its own and a different "feel". It focussed around the Ladbroke Grove/Notting Hill area of London. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UK_Underground [May 2005]

underground - UK - UK underground - swinging London - counterculture

2005, May 31; 13:54 ::: Freak scene

Psychedelic Psoul (1967) - The Freak Scene

The freak scene was a term used by a slightly post-hippie and pre-punk style of bohemian subculture. It referred to an overlap between politicised pacifist post-hippies and generally non-pacifist progressive rock fans moving between rock festivals, free festivals, happenings and alternative society gatherings of various kinds. The name comes, at least partly, from a tongue-in-cheek reference to the beat scene.

The freak scene was a stepping-stone between the hippie era and punk. The dissatisfaction with society's labelling of its subcultures had become self-parodying. The scene evolved from the growing awareness that sexism and homophobia, which still existed to a significant extent in hippie behaviour patterns, were unaccceptable. The taking on of the derogatory word freak represented an embracing of identity politics. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freak_scene [May 2005]

see also: subculture - freak - psychedelic

2005, May 31; 13:28 ::: Social and cultural identity

Social identity is a theory formed by Henri Tajfel and John Turner to understand the psychological basis of intergroup discrimination. It is composed of three elements:

  • Categorization: We often put others (and ourselves) into categories. Labeling someone as a Muslim, a Turk, or soccer player are ways of saying other things about these people.
  • Identification: We also associate with certain groups (our ingroups), which serves to bolster our self-esteem.
  • Comparison: We compare our groups with other groups, seeing a favorable bias toward the group to which we belong.
--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_identity [May 2005]

Cultural identity is the (feeling of) identity of a group or culture, or of an individual as far as she/he is influenced by her/his belonging to a group or culture. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_identity [May 2005]

see also: culture - identity - sociology - group - bias - category - influence - other - self

2005, May 31; 12:39 ::: Che Guevara photo and poster

Che Guevara by Alberto Korda (March 1960)

Che Guevara poster by Jim Fitzpatrick (1968)

This article is about the famous photograph and poster-art image of Che Guevara.

Alberto Korda's famous photograph of Che Guevara was taken in March 1960 at a Cuban funeral service, but was published seven years later. The Maryland Institute College of Art called Korda's photo, "The most famous photograph in the world and a symbol of the 20th century."

A modified version of the portrait has been reproduced on a range of different media, though Korda never asked for royalties from most of those who reproduced the image because of his belief in Guevara's ideals. However, Korda at least once claimed copyright over the image to prevent it being used in an advertisement for vodka. Korda was a lifelong communist and only wanted to cut down on blatant commercialization of the image, telling reporters:

"As a supporter of the ideals for which Che Guevara died, I am not averse to its reproduction by those who wish to propagate his memory and the cause of social justice throughout the world."

The most famous image of Che Guevara is the high contrast bust drawing that is based on the photo. This image was made in several variations: some in red and black, others in black and white, and some in black and white with a red star by Irish artist Jim Fitzpatrick, an artist most known for his depictions of Irish mythology.

It is interesting to note the direction of Che's gaze in the original photograph, as Fitzpatrick's version contains a small but significant modification. In the original, the eyes are focused on the area in front of Guevara, whilst in the drawing, the eyes are gazing towards the distant horizon. There is an epic, heroic significance in Che's pose; in the original image Che appears worried, tense, whilst in the interpretation his face is set in a pose of defiant pride. He appears to be looking towards the future. With this simple alteration the image of Che has come to overshadow the reality, and as such some criticise it as being nothing more than a memetic mass-produced symbol.

Fitzpatrick's graphic was later used by Andy Warhol with the same graphic processes that he used on Marilyn Monroe pictures. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Che_Guevara_%28photo%29 [May 2005]

see also: photography - poster

2005, May 31; 11:45 ::: Ethnocentrism

Ethnocentrism (Greek ethnos ("nation" + -centrism) is the tendency to look at the world primarily from the perspective of one's own culture. Many claim that ethnocentrism occurs in every society; ironically, ethnocentrism may be something that all cultures have in common. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethnocentrism [May 2005]

Ethnocentrism as selfishness
In the latter quarter of the 20th century, various forms of ethnocentrism began to be decried, largely by other groups professing either to be innocent of ethnocentrism themselves or eminently qualified to embrace it. Black Americans complained of the Eurocentrism of white America while exalting Afrocentrism. Edward Said wrote a book called Orientalism arguing that the West could not understand Arab and Islamic cultures (and should not try to).

Many wars have been fought with ethnocentricism as a major theme. World War II entailed ethnocentrism on two fronts: Nazi Germany's "master race" concept exalted the so-called "Aryan people", while Japan proposed its Greater East-Asia Co-prosperity Sphere in 1940. The Nazis succeeded in taking over much of Europe and embarked on the largest ethnic cleansing campaign in history (see the Holocaust, ironically demonizing Jews for "Jewish ethnocentrism" and using that as part of their justification).

The reasons for maintaining an ethnicity or culture are often personal, and relate to the cohesion of familiar personal and social elements; that is, attachment or custom. We all are born into a human culture, and it is the culture that shapes our self-awareness and understanding of other individuals. It also reflects, depending on the cultural teaching, customs or patterns of behaviour in relating to other cultures. This behaviour can range from universal acceptance or feelings of inferiority compared with other cultures, to racism, which many consider an aspect of xenophobia. Some examples of ethnocentric behaviours are represented by such social phenomena as economic isolationism, counter-cultures, anti-establishmentism, and widespread social patterns of interpersonal abusive behaviours as ostracization, prejudice, and discrimination.

A paradigm of the academic community in the United States, particularly among anthropologists, is that enthnocentrism adversely affects one's understanding and assessment of culture, and therefore should always be avoided. However, the extent to which education can engage enthnocentrism is debated, because education by definition is a cultural construct. Moreover, many anthropologists contend that almost every opinion and insight held by an individual is influenced by their culture, hence ethnocentrism cannot always be avoided.

In theory, however, the anthropology and sociology fields advocate a removal of the unique cultural lens of researchers studying culture and adherence to the academic tenet of cultural relativism. This theory is illustrated by anthropologist Phillippe Bourgois in his book In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio, which states that "cultures are neither good nor bad; they simply have an internal logic" (15).

In the modern world, a global economy has resulted in a great increase in inter-cultural contact. Technological advances in communication have progressively overcome previous obstacles to communication - physical obstacles that once helped to keep ethnic distinctions distinct. Ethnic lines still exist, and co-exist, and cultures of the world often find that their central concern, that of maintaining an identity despite rapid transculturation, or a merging between cultures, is still possible. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethnocentrism#Ethnocentrism_as_selfishness [May 2005]

see also: ethnicity

2005, May 31; 11:37 ::: The Residents

photo of The Residents

The Residents are an avant garde music and visual arts group. They started performing in the early 1970s and released their first album in 1974.

Throughout their 30+ year history, The Residents have always cloaked their lives and music in obscurity. The band members, who appear to be 4 or 5 in number, refuse to grant interviews, and do not identify themselves by name or even individual pseudonyms. Concerts and photo shoots are always performed in full disguise, most recognizably in white tie tuxedos, top hats and giant eyeball masks (in the mid 1980s, one member's eyeball mask was stolen, so it was replaced with a giant skull mask). Any interviews or PR work are done directly by the band's hired management team, known as The Cryptic Corporation, and despite speculation, the members of the PR group deny that they themselves are members of the band. It is believed that at least one member of the group is female, and it has been speculated that the group may include well-known musicians who, perhaps, are under contract to other record companies, which would necessitate maintaining some form of anonymity.

For their part, The Residents simply feel that artists do their best work without the influence of an audience, should only be judged by their work, and that a band members' genders, ethnicities, line-up changes, and most importantly daily life outside of the band, are irrelevant. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Residents [May 2005]

see also: The Residents

2005, May 31; 11:27 ::: Survival of the Coolest (2003) - William Pryor

Survival of the Coolest (2003) - William Pryor [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Book Description
The Survival of the Coolest is the story of a great-great-grandson of Charles Darwin's death-defying journey into the interior of heroin addiction in the 1960's and back out again. William Pryor's privileged Cambridge background, growing up on the edges of the Bloomsbury phenomenon and in the bosom of the Darwin dynasty, was no proof against addiction to heroin and other psychosomatic substances. Coolest is a compelling, lucid and honest account of a descent into addiction by a privileged beatnik manning the counter-cultural barricades with the likes of Alex Trocchi, Syd Barrett and Viscount Billy Bolitho. Brought on by a police sting as he tried to run a bohemian bookshop in Torquay, Pryor's subsequent crash-landing at what Alcoholics Anonymous describes as 'rock bottom' marked the end of his addiction in 1975. Twenty-eight years later and still clean, William Pryor throws some much-needed light on the nature of addiction and recovery and on the mythologies, folklore and downright lies that surround a condition that affects a large proportion of the population. Dorothy Rowe, the psychologist and author of over 40 books, said The Survival of the Coolest is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand why a War on Drugs and Just Say No can never work, and why some people become addicted to drugs while others do not. Norman Marshall (a director of Transform, the drug legislation consultancy) wrote: I must say found it absolutely riveting. it is ultimately a very uplifting read about (obviously) Survival, redemption, forgiveness and being seen. I don't know that I have ever read a book that quite so ruthlessly lays bare its subject, with a coolness and objectivity that takes all the pretentiousness, self-pity and selfishness of young William and makes them understandable, forgiveable, deeply human.

William Pryor (writer)
Born in Farnborough, England in 1945, to the daughter of Gwen Raverat, great granddaughter of Charles Darwin and to English squirarchy on his father's side, William Pryor became a beat poet, dadaist and heroin addict under the influence of Alexander Trocchi. He got straight in 1975 when he became a serial entrepreneur, starting Airlift Book Company and The Green Catalogue. In 2002 he wrote a memoir of his addictions: The Survival of the Coolest which was published the following year and is currently being developed into a feature film. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Pryor_%28writer%29 [May 2005]

see also: cool - heroin

2005, May 31; 10:52 ::: The Cinematic Body (1993) - Steven Shaviro

The Cinematic Body (1993) - Steven Shaviro [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Moving between Jerry Lewis and Andy Warhol, between Fassbinder's gay sex icons and George Romero's flesh-eating zombies, Shaviro radically critiques the Lacanian model currently popular in film theory and film studies, arguing against that model's obsessive emphasis on the phallus, castration anxiety, sadistic mastery, ideology, and the structure of the signifier. Shaviro also explores issues of popular culture, postmodernism, the politics of the body, the construction of masculinity and of homo/heterosexualities, the nature and uses of pornography, and the aesthetics of masochism.

"Invokes and evokes the force and sensation of film from within a Deleuze-Guattarian perspective. . . . well-written, elegant, and eloquent."--Dana Polan via http://www.upress.umn.edu/Books/S/shaviro_cinematic.html [May 2005]

see also: body - cinema

2005, May 31; 10:39 ::: Daliah Lavi

Daliah Levi, photo unidentified

see also: La Frusta e il corpo / The Whip and The Body (1963)

2005, May 31; 10:16 ::: Erst kommt das Fressen, dann kommt die Moral ...

"Erst kommt das Fressen, dann kommt die Moral ..." translates as "First comes food, then comes morality."

scene from the The Threepenny Opera

The Threepenny Opera (Die Dreigroschenoper) was a revolutionary piece of musical theatre written (in German) by the German dramatist Bertolt Brecht in collaboration with the composer Kurt Weill in 1928.

It directly challenges the audience by breaching the "fourth wall" with what he called Verfremdung, or alienation technique. For example, slogans are projected on the back wall and the characters sometimes carry picket signs, or stand at times with their backs to the audience. The play challenges conventional notions of property as well as theater. It asks the central rhetorical question, "Who is the bigger criminal: He who robs a bank or he who founds one?"

Despite the title and alienating techniques, it is as much a musical comedy as it is an opera. Except for the "Overture", the songs are relatively simple in form and the orchestra is a distinctly jazzy small combo. The score, by Kurt Weill, was deeply influenced by jazz. The opening song, "Die Moritat von Mackie Messer", was adopted by Louis Armstrong as "Mack the Knife", which later became a pop hit for Bobby Darin.

The opera is based on the English poet John Gay's 1728 operatic satire, The Beggar's Opera. The central character in both is MacHeath, who is an elegant highwayman in Gay's work and a vicious and violent anti-heroic criminal who sees himself as a businessman in the Brecht-Weill version.

In the Threepenny Opera, MacHeath (Mack the Knife), marries Polly Peachum. This displeases her father, Jonathan Peachum, who controls the beggars of London, and he endeavours to have MacHeath hanged. This is somewhat complicated by the fact that the chief of police, Tiger Brown, is an old friend of MacHeath's. Peachum exerts considerable political influence, and eventually MacHeath is arrested and imprisoned, escapes, then imprisoned once more. At the point of execution, in an unrestrained parody of a happy ending, a hard-riding messenger from the Queen (Victoria) dramatically arrives at the last minute, and MacHeath is pardoned and given a baronetcy. (Another Brecht-Weill work is titled Happyend.)

In 1954 Lotte Lenya won a Tony Award for her role as Jenny in a somewhat softened version of the Threepenny Opera by Marc Blitzstein that played on and off Broadway for many years. Blitzstein translated the work into English, and Lenya, who was married to Weill, had also played the role of the "Pirate Jenny" in the original German production. Her ballad fantasizing leaving her work as a barmaid to lead a pirate assault on the city is the second best known song in the work with its chorus, "And the ship with black sails, and with 50 cannons, will beseige the city". (Und das Schiff mit acht Segeln und mit fünfzig Kanonen wird beschiessen die Stadt.)

The original German version was very popular. It was performed more than 10,000 times and translated into 18 languages. Interestingly, when this play was translated into French, it was given a name in French that means "The Fourpenny Opera", L'Opéra de quat'sous. It has been translated into English several times, most notably by Blitzstein in 1954, noted Irish playwright and translator Frank McGuinness in 1992, and by Jeremy Sams for a production at London's Donmar Warehouse in 1997. Ralph Mannheim and John Willett produced an English translation in 1979.

There have been at least four film versions. German director Georg Wilhelm Pabst made German- and French-language versions simultaneously (a common practice in the early days of sound films) in 1931. Another version was directed by Wolfgang Staudte in West Germany in 1962 (scenes with Sammy Davis, Jr. were added for the American release). The most recent one was an American version (renamed Mack the Knife) in 1990, directed by Menahem Golan, with Raúl Juliá as Mackie and Roger Daltrey as the Streetsinger. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Threepenny_Opera [May 2005]

see also: Bertolt Brecht

2005, May 31; 09:59 ::: Charlie Parker (1920 - 1955)

Charles Parker, Jr (August 29, 1920 – March 12, 1955) was a jazz saxophonist and composer. Early in his career Parker was dubbed Yardbird; this was later shortened to Bird and remained Parker's nickname for the rest of his life.

Parker is commonly considered one of the greatest jazz musicians, ranked alongside Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, and a handfull of others in terms of influence and impact. Parker is widely ranked as one of the best saxophonists; critic Scott Yanow speaks for many jazz fans and musicians when he suggests that "Parker was arguably the greatest saxophonist of all time."

A founding figure of bebop, Parker's innovative approach to melody, rhythm and harmony have exerted an incalculable influence on jazz. Several of Parker's songs have become standards of the repertoire, and many musicians have studied Parker's music and absorbed elements of his style.

Parker became an icon for the Beat generation, and was a pivotal figure in the evolving conception of the jazz musician as an uncompromising artist and intellectual, rather than just a popular entertainer. At various times, Parker fused jazz with other musical styles, from classical (seeking to study with Edgard Varese and Stefan Wolpe) to Latin music (recordings with Machito), blazing paths followed later by others. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlie_Parker [May 2005]

Parker was also a notorious drug addict. As a teenager, he developed a morphine addiction while in hospital after an automobile accident, and subsequently became addicted to heroin, which was to plague him throughout his life and ultimately kill him. Parker's addiction unfortunately created the impression (at least to some) that his musical genius was somehow related to his drug use. For about a decade following Parker's death, jazz was closely associated with narcotics, and many musicians began using drugs, partly in imitation of their musical idol.

Although he produced some valuable recordings during this period, Parker's behavior became increasingly erratic. Heroin was difficult to obtain after his dealer was arrested, and Parker began to drink heavily to compensate for this. A recording of "Lover Man" for the Dial label from July 29, 1946 provides evidence of his condition. Reportedly, Parker could barely stand during the session and had to be physically supported by others in order to keep him positioned properly against the microphone. The record, though barely competent and maybe the worst of his career, illustrates how the man's genius tried desperately to come out through his agony. Parker never forgave his producer for releasing the sub-par record (and re-recorded the tune in 1953 for Verve, this time in stellar form), but it remains an invaluable testimony to a part of his career.

A few days after the "Lover Man" session, Parker was drinking in his hotel room when he set fire to his mattress with a cigarette, then ran through the hotel lobby wearing only his socks. He was arrested and committed to Camarillo State Hospital, where he remained for six months.

Coming out of the hospital, Parker was clean and healthy, and proceeded to do some of the best playing and recording of his career. He returned to New York and recorded dozens of sides for the Dial and Savoy labels (including "Relaxin' at Camarillo," in reference to his hospital stay) that remain one of the high points of his recorded output.

Parker died while watching Tommy Dorsey on television in the suite at the Hotel Stanhope belonging to his friend and patroness Nica de Koenigswarter. Parker's heroin addiction ultimately caused his death at the age of 34, after a lifetime of abuse (though the official cause of death was a bleeding ulcer and pneumonia). The coroner mistakenly estimated Parker's age to be between 50 and 60.

Parker left a widow, Chan. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlie_Parker#Bebop [May 2005]

inspired by Cool Rules: Anatomy of an Attitude (2000) - Dick Pountain, David Robins [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

see also: cool - jazz - heroin - bebop

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