Archive for July, 2006

Look into my eyes

From Outlandish, a poignant and beautiful video about the occupation and apartheid in Palestine. Count on Outlandish to produce awesome and meaningful hip hop.

See I’ve known terror for quite some time
57 years so cruel
Terror breathes the air I breathe
It’s the checkpoint on my way to school
Terror is the robbery of my land
And the torture of my mother
The imprisonment of my innocent father
The bullet in my baby brother
The bulldozers and the tanks
The gases and the guns
The bombs that fall outside my door
All due to your funds
You blame me for defending myself
Against the ways of my enemies
I’m terrorized in my own land
But am I the terrorist?

Oh, let’s not cry tonight, I promise you one day it’s through;
Oh, my brothers; Oh, my sisters;
Oh, shine a light for every soul that ain’t with us no more…

Even if their Danish English doesn’t make perfect sense sometimes.

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Hizbullah and the evil Islam people things

Of course, Hizbullah just popped out of the sky one day and decided to start harassing Israel. No, really, that’s what happened. A bunch of radical Islamicistic Shias got together and decided that they would start firing Katyushas into Israel because they hate Israel because Israel is Jewish.

It has nothing to do with Israel’s invasion of Southern Lebanon, and its constant bombardment of civilian areas, kidnapping of civlians, arbitrary detentions, home and property expropriation and destruction, etc. etc. etc.

And of course, only irrational Islamicistic segments of the Southern Lebanese population support Hizbullah. Not, of course, the vast majority of them — traditionally marginalized and underprivileged Shias — who are loyal to Hizbullah for providing defense from Israel, eventually forcing it out of Southern Lebanon, and in the meanwhile providing basic social services like health care, medical centres, education, food, security, radio and even a television station. Nope, it’s just irrational Islamist anti-Jew hate-Israel-for-no-goddamn-reason types.

And of course, Hizbullah’s recent actions in Israel are just bald and naked provocation. Not a response to constant Israeli air raids, kidnappings the prisoners of which are still missing and unaccounted for — or are held in arbitrary detention, historical injustice, and oh — yeah, there’s that little problem of millions of Palestinians living in deplorable conditions under military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza — nothing to do with all that, of course.

Nope, just them damn Islamic radicals out to cause problems for peace-lovin’ folks.

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Who’s the terrorist?

Excellent hip hop from Palestinian group DAM.

Democratia?
Wallah kam Nazia!

You’re a democracy?
By God you’re more like the Nazis!

You have to watch the video twice, once for the lyrics and again for the video clips.

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It’s the occupation, stupid!

‘Nuff said.

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Overheard…

Kant says shooting the ball violates the categorical imperative.
Hegel says just play offside.

Outside Bahen at about 6:30 on Monday.

Edit (7/31/07):
Posted this nearly a year ago, now I realize it’s from the Monty Python sketch, The Philosopher’s Football Match. The correct quotation is:

Hegel is arguing that the reality is merely an a priori adjunct of non-naturalistic ethics, Kant via the categorical imperative is holding that ontologically it exists only in the imagination, and Marx claiming it was offside.

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Football, racism and Zidane

It’s easy for certain people to talk about how Zidane should’ve retained his composure and acted “professional” in the face of what might have been racial or other slurs coming from Materazzi. It’s often these same folks who don’t have to face the vulgar racism prevalent in pretty much all of Europe. I, for one, think it’s okay for players to lose their control and beat the shit out of racist players who make disparaging remarks about race, ethnicity, background, etc. Go for it. Headbutt them. Stamp on them. Whatever.

The onus shouldn’t be on the player to remain composed and professional. The onus should be on the racist to keep his mouth shut. The onus should be on FIFA to severely sanction racist comments, racist fans, racist coaches, racist players, etc. Stop the match, throw them out, do whatever it takes. Don’t throw Zidane off the field for headbutting Materazzi, kick Materazzi in the ass and send him off the field. Give Zidane a yellow card, for not reporting it to the ref (or whatever). Play on.

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Malcolm X Novel Graphic

I’ve just received a publicity package from Farrar, Straus & Giroux Publishers in the States. Their Hill and Wang imprint is wrapping up production of three comic novels: a biography of Malcolm X, a biography of Ronald Reagan, and a comic adaptation of the 9/11 Report.

They call them “novel graphics” as opposed to “graphic novels” (er…). I’ve only received the first six pages of the Malcolm X comic novel (in addition to the first six pages of the Reagan biography and the first several pages of the 9/11 Report), but I’m already beginning to see some problems.

For instance, Thomas Leben, publisher at Hill and Wang, lauds the ability of the comics medium to convey profound messages simply: “… the third page in Randy Duburke’s graphic biography of Malcolm X [...] captures the entire arc of slavery, emancipation, and Jim Crow that set the stage for Malcolm Little’s life.”

Comics is a fantastic medium, yes, but that doesn’t mean that it can do justice to phenomena as complex and deeply rooted as slavery in a single panel. (Okay, this is complicated, but it actually can. It really depends on the size of the panel, the way elements are represented, and how subject matters are treated therein. Needless to say it’s a very difficult thing to do, and despite the fact that Duburke is a remarkably talented artist, he doesn’t — can’t — pull it off in a panel the size of an average two- or three-panel comic strip. This doesn’t mean that a three-panel comic strip can’t deal with complex issues, Charles Schulz and Bill Watterson show, very finely, that they can. But they never tried to canvass slavery, emancipation, and Jim Crow in a single page — and for good reason.)

The issue, here, isn’t the comics adaptation. I think any subject — bar none — can be presented more than adequately by the comics form. The problem is the content.

The Malcolm X biography is written by Andrew Helfer, the same guy who wrote the script for the comic biography of Ronald Reagan. It’s hard to think of two more, well, opposite public figures. If I were going to write a biography of Reagan, it wouldn’t be flattering. If I were to write a biography of Malcolm, it wouldn’t be simplified.

There are other problems with the first few pages (especially with respect to details of Malcolm’s life, and, particularly, his demise). The promotional package, for instance, remarks that Malcolm’s “words inspired generations of African Americans — and played a role in his violent death.” What, exactly, does that mean? Yes, that’s right, Malcolm preached violence, and hence that violence came to reclaim him — he got what he deserved, that scary, even respectable, but nevertheless shit-disturbing nigger. If this biography doesn’t mention, at the very least, Malcolm’s own doubts about the NOI’s involvement in his impending death, then there are problems.

Having said that, I can’t prematurely judge the final product until I’ve read the entire, 100 page graphic novel. Which should be coming out sometime in November. (The 9/11 Report adaptation will be coming out in September, five years anniversary edition.) Then I can offer a proper review.

In the meanwhile, here’s an article on the three “novel graphics” from Publisher’s Weekly, it has the first page of the 9/11 Report adaptation.

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Homegrown fascism

I was watching CityTV News last night when they aired a story about three men urinating on a national veterans memorial on Canada Day.

The news reporter said these young men had taken their freedom for granted.

I don’t buy that.

I think these young men actually hate Canadian values and freedom. But why? Why do they hate us?

From the pictures, it seemed these ostensibly Canadian-born, white-skinned men were inspired by international fascist extremist organizations that require their young followers to most heinously urinate on freedom-loving people’s memorials.

Canada has long provided safe haven to these fascist extremists. For instance, Ernst Zündel, the world’s greatest publisher of Nazi fascist freedom-hating propaganda, comfortably resided in Canada, doing his anti-freedom activities for decades, until he was recently deported to Germany to face charges relating to his Nazi fascist freedom-hating propaganda.

While it hasn’t been proven, I don’t doubt for a moment that those young men were inspired by Ernst Zündel-ian international fascist freedom-hating evil men organizations.

I think there is a growing and alarming trend of homegrown fascism, as evidenced by these men. Also, the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, is reopening the debate on same-sex marriages.

Do you know who else hated homosexuals? That’s right … Hitler and the Nazi party.

We have to defend Canadian rights and freedoms from these evil fascist freedom-hating Canadian-values-defiling neo-Nazi fascist evil freedom-haters.

Otherwise, we will all have to live in a climate of fear, where white-skinned men will urinate on us because of the colours of our– wait, this sounds familiar.

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Anthropology!

ANT352Y1
South Asia: Practices, Theories, Representations 52L

This course examines the institution of the royal court in the ancient New World as a nexus for negotiation of power and assertion of cultural identity. Case studies concentrate on the Maya; Aztec and Inca cultures provide important comparative contexts. We also explore the integration of textual and material evidence in investigating ancient cultures.
Prerequisite: ARH305H1
This is a Social Science course.

I think I was 6 or 7 years old when I recognized the difference between South Asia and South America.* Maybe younger. I think it was around the same time when I realized how absurd oxymorons like “ancient New World” can be.

* Someone fucked up. This is the course description for ANT421H1, which, apparently without any sense of irony, is entitled “Royal Courts of the Ancient New World”.

ANT426H1
Orientalism: Western Views of the Other 39L

Language and imagery representing the “oriental” in the West. Emphasis on representations of the “Semites”, the Islamic peoples of North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, as well as the Jews from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century.
Prerequisite: ANT323Y1/ANT329Y1/any 300-level course in INI/VIC/NMC/Jewish Studies

Three guesses as to what one of the primary reading materials for this course is. Maybe I should take it and focus on comics, but it’s not offered this year. Besides, in reading over thirty years of Marvel Comics I’ve only ever once come across an Arab superhero. Arabian Knight. He wears a turban, has a scimitar, and flies on a magic carpet. I kid you not:

(That was part of Marvel’s Contest of Champions in 1982. Two years later in 1984 Marvel had a Secret Wars event. Here is one of the funniest videos I’ve seen in a long time, re: Secret Wars.)

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Sometimes — most of the times — it’s hard to escape the feeling that at the end of the day I’m one of the smartest dumbasses I know. I’ve been at this University for three years and the most original and convincing work I’ve done is reconciling the place of virtue and passion in Rousseau’s Levite of Ephraim; or analysing the role of stereotypes in Sacco’s Safe Area Gorazde. Oh, and my first year epic — Tolkien’s use of Faramir of Gondor in the Lord of the Rings as a representative of his own motivations, ideas, fears, etc. If the expression on your face is somewhere between “what the fuck?” and “what the fuck?” then welcome to my life.

And then, all that shit isn’t all that original anyway. So in the end, what have I accomplished? Nothing. What have I learned about what I want to do? Nothing. All I know is what I don’t want to do, and that’s what I’m probably going to end up doing.

I’ve learned how I’ll probably never know how many genes, exactly, were on or off (or somewhere in between) in shaping my nose, unless (and perhaps even after) I get my genome mapped out. Or at least that part of it — the nose part. If there is a nose part. There are probably nose parts, spread out all over the place. I also know what my kidney looks like, under a microscope. Okay, not mine, but a rat’s. Apparently they’re very similar. I drew real live (dead) human bones once (more than once). I’ve also learned that a dead man’s half-back-torso is heavy, and, when stored in formaldehyde in a fridge, smelly. But I knew that latter part from grade eleven pig dissection.

I’ve come to accept the theory of evolution as conclusive. I no longer believe homosexuality is something to cringe at, and defend it. All that and more, and none of it in the classroom. For all it matters I could’ve been panhandling in the Toronto Reference Library or Robarts these past three years. As long as I had access to a computer and the Internet I would’ve been fine. I also would’ve been spared reading Rousseau’s Levite of Ephraim. Which, admittedly, is a very short read.

In the end, I feel like I’m a little bit of everything, not enough of anything, and far more confused about my future than I have a right to be.

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