Taryn Simon’s China vs. Rian Dundon’s China

Two very different approaches.

Changsha by Rian Dundon (support his book project on emphas.is)

“I always thought of it as a kind of collaboration,” he said. “I’m here, I’m hanging out, and I don’t really know anything. So I’m going to let people lead me and see what kind of threads I can be led along. And if I give it enough time, those threads will lead to other threads.”

Dundon lived in China for six years, unofficially documenting his experience there. In contrast, Taryn Simon used the process of seeking officially sanctioned representation as a kind of material for her project.

A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters by Taryn Simon

China’s State Council Information Office (SCIO) was solicited in 2009 to select a multi-generational bloodline that would “represent China” for this project … Previously known as the Office of Foreign Propaganda, the SCIO researches, develops, and manages China’s external publicity activities.

This is just a small part of Taryn Simon’s exhibition that’s up at MoMA, Taryn Simon: A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters I–XVIII.

Occupy as a series of failuresnonviolentconflict.wordpress.com

Natasha Lennard:

What a long chain of failures Occupy has been over the past seven months. Think about it: It didn’t shut down Wall Street on September 17th; it couldn’t set up camp in its first-choice location, Chase Manhattan Plaza; it barely marched a third of the way across the Brooklyn Bridge roadway before getting kettled; the Oakland General Strike did not exactly generalize; and occupations have been driven from plazas, squares, vacant buildings, and sidewalks across America. Again and again, plans of action have not materialized as projected.

But maybe these failures are okay?

I was arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge while reporting on the day’s events for the New York Times. When I stood in plasticuffs with other arrestees, flanking the bridge’s Brooklyn-bound roadway awaiting our carriage in police buses, it was cold and rainy; the bridge and its iconic view have never looked so exhilarating and beautiful to me. As far as failing to cross a bridge goes, this was pretty spectacular.

See also: Occupy Did What?

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CISPA is bad newswww.opencongress.org

From Open Congress:

[CISPA] would allow web companies to share virtually any information about their users with the government, without a court order. No prior privacy laws would apply.

Even if this is already on the veto chopping block, look forward to attack ads framing Democrats as “anti-cybersecurity.”

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Kenneth Goldsmith on the New Aestheticwww.poetryfoundation.org

I’ve been too distracted by other things to write much about the New Aesthetic, which started as a a blog post, then expanded into a Tumblr blog, then a SXSW panel (which I saw, and enjoyed very much). Now it’s become a kind of meme, I see equal parts “what is this thing” and “how do we talk about this?” And some jokey dismissals.

I’m not sure I’ve arrived at anything I could add to the conversation, but I like Kenneth Goldsmith’s take on it, published in the Poetry Foundation’s Harriet blog:

The Twenty-first century is invisible. We were promised jetpacks but ended up with handlebar moustaches. The surface of things is the wrong place to find the 21st century. Instead, the unseen, the Infrathin—those tiny devices in our pockets or the thick data-haze which permeates the air we breathe — locates us in the present. And in this way, The New Aesthetic is not so much a movement as it is a marker, a moment of observation which informs us that culture—along with its means of production and reception —has radically shifted beneath our feet while we were looking the other way.

He compares the New Aesthetic to New Writing (something I’m not familiar with), and points out that newer approaches in poetry are still ultimately relying on tree pulp for their final presentation:

Beginning with Mallarmé and ending with Language Poetry, the emergence of digital culture signified a break with modernism, replacing deconstructive tendencies with strategies informed by the workings of computers and the web: word processing, databasing, recycling, appropriation, intentional plagiarism, identity ciphering, and intensive programming, but to name a few. Yet the odd thing is that these practices, born of digital immersion, have not shown up exclusively on the screen, but more often have manifested themselves on the printed page.

Goldsmith’s essay reminded me of a counter-example, not meant to contradict what he’s saying, but maybe a model for a New Aesthetic approach to poetry. It’s a project called The Archanoids by Mathew Timmons, that collectively vocalizes sound poetry through online video and voice telephony.

There are still a few items in my Instapaper queue I want to finish before writing more substantially on the New Aesthetic, but if you haven’t read this Bruce Sterling essay on the topic, you should!

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Two stories read by Colum McCann

I’d like to point out two New Yorker Fiction podcast episodes read by Colum McCann.

  1. “Transatlantic”, a story by McCann about the first non-stop transatlantic flight from Newfoundland to Ireland. It’s interesting how much less familiar I was with this earlier instance than Lindbergh’s first solo flight across the Atlantic.
  2. “Bluebell Meadow” by Benedict Kiely, about a romance between a Catholic and Protestant in Northern Ireland. There’s something very real about how this story conveys young love, remembered later.

Also, here’s a Q&A with McCann in text form instead of the usual interview before and after the reading.

David Simon on Stand your grounddavidsimon.com

From a blog post by David Simon on how the news media is focusing too much on Trayvon vs. Zimmerman, in terms of character, and missing the larger story about what Stand your ground legislation really means:

And now, quietly, by dint of both cash infusions from the gun lobby to legislators and scant attention from a hollowed-out press corps, this cautious standard is gone in twenty states. Now, anyone—regardless of their role, training or ultimate purpose—can bring a gun to an argument and take a life. And then, if they can manufacture enough of a threat to their person, they can justify the act. Maybe witnesses will be present to contradict their version of events; maybe not. Maybe there will be physical evidence to invalidate their claims; maybe not. But now, the baseline for responsibility lies not with the shooter, but with the state.

Guns don’t kill people, people do—this is the mantra that for generations has defined the prevailing ethos of the firearms lobby. But now, the argument has moved on: Guns don’t kill and neither do people; now, folks are just killed. Shit happens is the new credo for this quiet, epic revolution in our country–one that has already led to many more homicides that defy prosecution in the affected states.

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The Guardian on The World Tomorrowwww.guardian.co.uk

Julian Assange kicked off his television show on Russia Today interviewing Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. The Guardian doesn’t pull any punches:

There is a long dishonourable tradition of western intellectuals who have been duped by Moscow. The list includes Bernard Shaw, the Webbs, HG Wells and André Gide. So Assange—whether for idealistic reasons, or simply out of necessity, given his legal bills and fight against extradition to Sweden—isn’t the first. But The World Tomorrow confirms he is no fearless revolutionary. Instead he is a useful idiot.

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Jon Bell on Relevance

“Design is communication; communication is political.”

via Andre