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From Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology by David Abram:

Life’s become cheap … humans keep bashing each other in ever more creative ways … searing the land and spattering it with blood. An addled and anesthetized numbness is spreading rapidly throughout our species….

There are those, however, who are not frightened of grief; dropping deep into the sorrow, they find therein a necessary elixir to the numbness. When they encounter one another, when they press their foreheads against the bark of a centuries-old tree, or their palms into the hand of yet another child who has tasted prematurely of wrenching loss, their eyes well with tears that fall easily to the ground. The soil needs this water….


Grief is but a gate, and our tears a kind of key opening a place of wonder that’s been locked away. Suddenly we notice the sustaining resonance between the drumming heart within our chest and the pulse rising from under the ground….



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Hello, Darkness

From America At War With Itself by Henry Giroux:

Mass shootings have become routine in the United States and speak to a society that lives by violence while relying on it as a tool to feed the coffers of the merchants of death. Violence runs through American society like an electric current….

At a policy level, violence drives a gargantuan arms industry and a militaristic foreign policy, and is increasingly the punishing state’s major tool to enforce its hyped-up brand of domestic terrorism, especially against immigrants and people of color. The United States is utterly wedded to a neoliberal culture in which cruelty is viewed as a virtue, while mass incarceration is treated as the default welfare program and chief mechanism to “institutionalize obedience.” At the same time, dog-eat-dog competition replaces any notion of solidarity, and a transcendental sense of self-interest pushes society into the abyss of depoliticization and mindless consumerism. 

All of these forces coalesce in new modes of authoritarianism that re-order a society saturated in state violence, daily gun massacres, racism, fear, militarism, bigotry, and massive inequities in wealth and power.



In the coverage of this weekend’s massacres in El Paso, Texas or Dayton, Ohio (or any of the dozens that preceded them), you have likely heard someone express shock that such tragedies came to their communities … but “it can’t happen here” has been far from true for many years now. Here’s a list of a few organizations I’m familiar with that research the relentless violence so common in America today and try to influence gun control policy. Regardless of your personal or political views on gun control, each of these organizations can help you make informed choices and express informed opinions.

Everytown for Gun Safety

Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence

Gun Violence Archive

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence

The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence

The Southern Poverty Law Center


“Silence like a cancer grows….”


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Couple of Guys, Middle of Nowhere

Just saw this commercial for Google Chrome and Angry Birds on television:

 

“It’s a simple metric….”

“Are you angry, Peter? You look angry….”

I use Google Chrome (beta) almost exclusively and have since shortly after it was launched. It’s come a long way, especially in the last year. I rarely use IE or Firefox anymore, and even then just to do a browser check when I’m toying with web page changes.

I played Angry Birds once on my iPhone … for about five hours. Then I removed it.

Not that is wasn’t fun … it WAS fun … but the time I spent with it seemed to qualify as “lost time” ….

“Games of that sort are designed to grab your attention…. But apart from a few isolated images, or a little thrill of achievement when you scored points, you come away with no memories. It is as though a black hole had swallowed up this piece of your life.” – Stefan Klein, The Secret Pulse of Time

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“We Are Living In Exponential Times”

From the following video comes a perspective on technology that illustrates the rapid, exponential pace of change since the 1990s – a pace unlike anything human beings have ever experienced. The video ends with: “What does it all mean?” A very good question, don’t you think?

Discovered on Dominik Deobald’s blog here:

Did You Know?

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War as a Spectator Sport (Part One)

In Regarding the Pain of Others, Susan Sontag writes:

To designate a hell is not, of course, to tell us anything about how to extract people from that hell, how to moderate hell’s flames. Still, it seems good in itself to acknowledge … one’s sense of how much suffering caused by human wickedness there is in the world we share with others. Someone who is perennially surprised that depravity exists, who continues to feel disillusioned … when confronted with evidence of what human beings are capable of inflicting in the way of gruesome, hands-on cruelties upon other humans, has not reached moral or psychological adulthood…. No one after a certain age has the right to this kind of innocence, of superficiality, to this degree of ignorance, or amnesia.

Sontag’s essays in Regarding the Pain of Others and On Photography have always impressed me, for — among other reasons — the way she moves effortlessly from the public experience of photography to the way we experience it in our minds, and the connections she makes between the two. I was browsing through both books earlier this evening, in an attempt to better frame some comments on a Vogue Italia photographic essay described by Cooper in Is Rape In Vogue? You Tell Me.

The images in the essay are generating some discussion about — among other things — whether or not they are pornographic, whether or not they glorify rape, whether or not they glorify war, whether or not they have any aesthetic significance.  I could probably pick any of these, choose either side, and make a compelling and passionate case for or against. What I cannot do, however, is rescue the photographs themselves from what they really represent: the exact sort of psychological immaturity, superficiality, and demonstration of ignorance that Sontag is referring to. The photographs — by virtue of their distance from anything that would actually cause us to consider the realities of war — become little more than the kind of cliche aptly illustrated by their worn out title, Make Love, Not War.

It’s not, of course, necessarily true that all photography of war reflect it’s subject realistically, and I wouldn’t make that claim about photography of any subject. But that doesn’t mean choice of subjects doesn’t matter; the photographs are all integrated under one title, showing obviously related themes that were the explicit choices of the artists involved. As with all art, it is the artists’ choices that are fair game for evaluation and critical assessment.

The photographs don’t strike me as being about war at all. If I pitched a tent in my back yard, donned some military fatigues, slapped some mud on my face, and brandished a squirt gun (even a really big squirt gun), you wouldn’t call me a soldier. You might think I was playing soldier, and question my sanity, but that’s about it. The “soldiers” in these photographs seem about as soldierly as me and my tent; in both the actual appearance of the photographs and the way the models are portrayed, they’re only playing soldier too; or not even playing soldier, just playing.

The images of the men, though, are at least not overtly offensive. The men are, in nearly all the photographs, shown as happy, alert, enjoying an experience in the moment. In the women, however, there’s something else, made even more apparent by contrast with the appearance of the men. In photo after photo, the faces of the women suggest one of two conditions: semi-consciousness or pain. From the America’s Top Model mannequin-like pose in image 3, to the distraught and unfocused or visibly pained eyes in almost every other image, the women are most definitely not being portrayed as living the experience in the same way as the men. Disheveled, dirty, confused, and in pain, the women are so succinctly reduced to objects for the amusement of the men that the conclusion that the images glorify rape is a reasonable one, if not a wholly accurate one. At least early-modern attempts to objectify women (as toys for men) usually showed them looking good. Vogue Italia — in treating us to a helping of soft-core, military-style, repetitious, dull, and vaguely annoying porn — can’t be bothered, and instead serves up images that include … yes, you guessed it, mud wrestling….

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