the rain exploding
in the air is love
the grass excreting her
green waz is love
and stones remembering
past steps is love,
but you, you are too young
and i too old.
–from Ballad by Sonia Sanchez
Perhaps love is the energy transferred between the real and the abstract; the physics of time and the memory of touch. In that case, the illumination of the pregnant figure is the embodiment of capturing a moment of time overpowered by touch, an examination of the beginning of life and the physical universe holding it all. In The Sweet Breath of Life, a collaboration of photographic images by Kamoinge Inc. and poetry by Ntozake Shange, the energy finds a place to rest in the magnetic footsteps of a pregnant woman dancing on the roof of an urban building. There is an installation of the natural, as rain dances on and off her skin magically in a still photograph. Time passes with the dance of steady raindrops. The world around her moves with her. There is asymmetrical energy given by her urban background as parts of the building seem to stab at her exuberant nude body, covered only by her frail hands.
“forgive me if I smile
young heiress of a naked dream
you are so young
and i too old to learn to love.” –from Ballad by Sonia Sanchez
In the collection, Inner Light, we find the symmetrical energy of a pregnant figure enclosed in a recreation of the ovule of a flower, the flower budding within the flower. The lines constructed create a peaceful tension as parts of her body venture outside of the structure. Half of her body rests in the warm shadow of itself as her hands provide the only other coverage. The world around her cradles her, as she cradles her own. Time halts, a victim of her steady force, her steady heartbeat, and the energy within her. There is the energy of love between these two figures, a common thread of time blossoming within and the magnificent physical window from which it will enter.
Monday, April 30, 2007
Ace E725 Correspondent Bianca Chapman files a moving meditative fusion of word and image:
Graduate Teaching Assistant, mensch, House of Blues musician Mark Young sends a posting that marries our blogs recent interest in animal reproduction with our concurrent interest in media of an erotic/prosthetic nature:
From: "Mark Young"
Subject: Panda Porn
Date: Mon, 30 Apr 2007 20:13:23 +0000
Here's the link to the mating hijinx! As we've fretted over the problems of human representations of ethnicity and gender all semester, here's a glib and madcap reminder from our Chinese scientific colleagues that not all species seem to share these issues. Take porn for instance. And pandas. It seems these cuddly, masked males, notorious for their indifference to the coital tango, get a measurable lift from the videotaped romps and amplified aural pleasures of their more virile brethren! The result has been a panda baby boom large enough to bring the species from the brink of extinction. Sounds good, right? But do the lady-panda's know the secret to this newfound friskiness? I'm doubtful that an ethics committee has, of yet, discussed the implications for importing human vices into the kingdom of animal behavior (I'm having eerie visions of Yosemite bears: they've already learned how to breaking into cars for toothpaste and peanut butter...what might a sex-crazed bear epidemic look like?!).
Watch the video for some strange interspecies hijinx!
From: "Marta Borzuchowski"
Subject: Hey Bill!
Date: Mon, 30 Apr 2007 12:57:08 -0700
I was watching the news this morning and I found something that follows our class. PaPeRo is a robot that literally has its own mind. It knows its own master, observes and thinks information, and so on. It's truly crazy what the 21st Century has in store for the future. But here is a website about PaPeRo if you're curious.
E725 graduate student Ana Aguila sent in a blog entry on a cd about a month ago and i have just gotten around to posting it; here it is with my apologies:
Hello, professor. With the readings of Fanon dealing with racism and Martinican’s desire to be white, I came across this clip from a British drama called Life on Mars. It’s a crime series set in the 1970s with an honest cop from the future (that is 2007). This season the show’s been dealing a lot with race themes. The writers mix 70s and 2000s’ ideologies to get controversial stories. The cop from 2007 is always shown as the voice of reason: the good guy that sees everyone as a human and not as a color. The enclosed clip is about a hate crime. It shows the good cop arresting a skinhead after terrorizing a Pakistani neighborhood in Manchester, England. I liked the fact that the writers of the show are dealing with important themes such as race. The two ideologies from 70s and 2000s are represented as opposites: one filled with racism and the other filled with interracial relationships. The writers are trying to juxtapose the two in order to reflect the current situation with racism. I found the clip surprising and shocking.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
As a followup to a recent posting focusing on the erotic and amorous possibilities of pliable mannequins, do please follow this link to a story of ersatz canine love innovations. Among other things, it shows that when it comes to our Fido-friends, homo sapiens have not cornered the market. Original posting at Gizmodo.
Graduate student extraordinaire from e725 drops out of the blue and into the Obscene Machine blog with a provocative entry on dolls:
Date: Fri, 20 Apr 2007 16:18:17 -0700
From: "Andrea Knab"
Subject Blog submissionTo: "Bill Nericcio"
Hi Professor Nericcio
I found this image online and thought it was interesting. Apparently, the lucky child to take this doll home can play with his/her black baby doll or white baby doll by just flipping the dress over. What I think is most interesting is that the white doll's face is obviously worn, her eye is missing and the paint on her face and hand is chipped. However, the black doll's face is pristine. The child who owned this doll seems to have favored playing with the white doll more than the black one.
According to the website where I found the picture, the dolls date back to the antebellum era and were thought to represent the symbiotic relationship between black and white children. I searched for more "upside down dolls" and found this description: A very charming vintage upside down doll. One side is a black mammie type character with a floral gown and great bead necklace. The other side is an equally lovely Carmen Miranda type character with a fruit hat, bright beads and pretty red dress. These dolls represent extremely generalized representations of black and Latin women. The children who play with these dolls undoubtedly imagined them to be the mammie, Latin diva, or some other type of stereotypical role.
Sadly, I'm sure kids today would play with these dolls in the much the same way.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Comparative Literature maven and surf diva Keri Endich joins us for a meditation on ersatz love companions!
From: Keri Endich"
To: "Bill Nericcio
Subject: RE: ENGL493-01-Spring2007: Key Counsel | e493
Date: Mon, 16 Apr 2007 15:30:57 -0700
If lust is in your way of having a "real" relationship check this site out! This website is filled with over the top obscene machines. Virtually these "dolls" are made, sold, and bought to fulfill everyone's sexual fantasies. You can successfully order and customize your doll straight from your home by accessing this website and following some simple steps. The features your doll can have are limitless! You can pick anything from the nail color of your "doll" to the exact skin tone of your liking. The list goes on... do you have a sexual preference of what your "dolls" pubic hair is colored?- Well if you do- then the "realdoll" is right for you.
Go ahead- play around on the site with a virtual tour of what you would want your doll to look like. This enables the customer to be guaranteed that what they are getting is their choice. Did I mention that this web site also offers "shemales" as one of their "doll" features? Regardless of your sexual fantasies the real doll website will help create what is best for you!
Ok- lets get serious here... I am not making this up... and I am not trying to promote a new product line to the sexually frustrated. I just think that it would be nice for everyone to start accepting the fact that people are sex obsessed and there are places on the web that cater to those needs. When I stumbled- ok I fell rather hardly upon this site, I could not stop looking at it. I viewed the different photos of "dolls" and felt as if I were looking at porn.
The "dolls" seemed so lifelike that I wondered if any marriages were broken up because a wife or husband walked in on their spouse with one of these machines. This creation takes machines to a different level than I would have thought fathomable for people. I think overall it is sending the wrong message to people. Letters and e-mails were posted for reccomendations on certain dolls and what they could do for you. People were said to have like the dolls more than their "wives" and that being with a realdoll was stress free. I suppose that the only thing these dolls are really lacking is the ability to communicate- but hey what do we need that for anyway? There is also a video of an artist that features a realdoll in his video. She falls off a balcony and seems to be ok afterwards!
These creepy machines are being created without most people knowing about them. I can see the dangers that these dolls could have among all of our psyches. There are strong emotional attachments with children and their dolls, could this not be the same for adults? Although the dolls seem to be full of life physically there are emotonal needs that people have which are not being met. Whether inlove or obsessed with your doll, you cannot take him/her home to mom and dad. I think this sexual fantasy is teetering on the edge of creating some fucked up relationships with that of reality. These dolls are "real" but I think all of the reality has escaped their users.
Good morning--the blog entries and commentaries are beginning to pick up what with the end of the semester on the horizon; that makes it the perfect time to follow this link and catch up on e725 special desert agent Jim Ricker's musings at Vox Clamantis.
Monday, April 16, 2007
N. Susi, again!, is in the house with a timely posting:
To: firstname.lastname@example.orgSubject: Re: Blog Posting...
Date: Mon, 16 Apr 2007 16:26:44 -0400
During undergrad, I was in a "Texts and Contexts" class and we read David Hwang's "M Butterfly." We discussed the following story in connection with Baudrillard and the idea of simulacra. There is a 20/20 video with Barbara Walters interviewing Bernard Boursicot, but I looked all over and couldn't find it. If I find it, (it is quite entertaining), I will send it to you. This story definitely ties into our themes for the class. Natalie
The scene: Peking 1964. French Embassy Accountant Bernard Boursicot becomes enamored of a graceful Chinese opera singer named Shi Peipu. She returns his affection, bears him a child and induces him to engage in a little low-level spying on behalf of the People's Republic.
Paris 1986: Surprise! Shi Peipu was a male transvestite who somehow managed to perpetrate a 19-year hoax on the unsuspecting Boursicot by faking femininity and pregnancy and providing a baby boy who had been bought from a doctor in the Xinjiang region. Boursicot claimed that he did not discover the truth until he was arrested by French intelligence agents on charges of espionage. After hearing the strange case, seven judges last week sentenced both the hapless accountant and the former dancer to six years in prison. Their "son," Shi Dudu, now 20, was in the Paris courtroom at the time.
SDSU English and Comparative Literature Graduate Student Bianca Chapman checks in with some semantic and semiotic fire:
“But in my case everything takes on a new guise. I am given no chance. I am overdetermined from without. I am the slave not of the “idea” that others have of me but of my own appearance.” –Frantz Fanon
The image holds an ever-steady beat, permeating through the consciousness. The beat can transcend the music held before its composition, or it fights through the impressive amount of noise surrounding it. The African-American female image works over-time. As gifted student of the culture, Kiri Davis, demonstrates in an entry to the Sixth Annual Media That Matters Film Festival, there is a very present dissection of the “proper” image and the image of the African-American self. This concept of beauty is buried underneath the guise that dark-skin is still associated with “badness” or “ugliness” while lighter skin is associated with “goodness” or “beauty.” As the investigation continues, Davis juxtaposes (ever so appropriately) the experiment used by Dr. Kenneth Clark to justify segregation in the Brown vs. Board of Education case with a contemporary experiment of identical proportions. African-American children were given two dolls, black and white, and positioned to choose which dolls (yes, dolls) were better, nicer, prettier. The majority of the children preferred the white dolls over the black dolls. Davis consorts with this experiment in 2006 and little has changed. The power of the image has transformed into a louder/brighter force, suffocating the eyes/ears of human beings of African descent. We also see the opportunity of this toy-takeover in Republic of the Congo, thanks to the prolific work of Hector Mediavilla.
The dolls/mannequins represent what Fanon emphasizes as the need to become white at the expense of the dark skin or the “dark” image. The dolls also give a diagnosis of the destruction of the self-image in the African-American consciousness. The doll becomes the embodiment of the beat/image, its power only determined by the ability to be absorbed or (hopefully) purged.
Our field reporter and ace incipient art historian from e493, Marta Borzuchowski, writes in with a tip to a cool Frida Kahlo website:
From: "Marta Borzuchowski"
Subject: Hey Bill!
Date: Fri, 13 Apr 2007 15:09:44 -0700
Hey Bill! its Marta ! im been researching and working on my paper all week and stumbled upon this really cool website on Frida Kahlo. I am so amazed and curious about the meanings her paintings. If you go here it shows some of her most famous paintings with all the symbols/ideas right there. Just scroll over the paintings. Then that made me think--I'm not a film/writing major or any kind of art major--but i always wondered if artists are conscious of making hidden meanings in their work?
Friday, April 13, 2007
katie ness checks in with a post for the obscene machine blog:
I was particularly struck by Frantz Fanon’s discussion of language in Black Skin, White Masks and how applicable his arguments are to our current political situation. Since we are in the middle of a semester-long analysis of the construction of ethnic mannequins, Fanon makes many interesting assertions about the construction of identity through language. He argues “that a study of the language of the Antilles Negro would be able to show us some characteristics of his world” (38). Fanon is convincing not only in a discussion of mid-20th century culture, but also at the beginning of the 21st century. We judge others on how they speak and, in turn, are judged ourselves. We make certain assumptions about a person by how they use language: how educated they are, what part of the country/world they come from, their age, political standings, etc. Fanon continues by stating that “[t]o speak a language is to take on a world, a culture. The Antilles Negro who wants to be white will be the whiter as he gains greater mastery of the cultural tool that language is” (38). Language is power, and the stronger our language, the more articulate we appear, the more respect we receive from others. So, how do we resolve the issue that this video present? What does George W. Bush’s mastery of the English language show us about his world? How would Fanon comment on this?
(***Warning: anti-Bush propaganda follows).
- Katie Ness
Sunday, April 08, 2007
La Jolla, California--a hotbed of Latina/o Cultural Studies activities! e725 ace correspondent Melissa Posa checks in with a post:
Date: Sat, 07 Apr 2007 21:00:18 -0700
From: "Melissa Posa"
Subject: Speedy or just another mouse!!!
I was reading the paper last weekend and I came across an ad for a restaurant called Mr. Taco. Of course, the ad has a mouse on it, a mouse might I add very similar to, if not an exact replica of Speedy Gonzales. Dressed in what I would call "Mexican bandit attire" the mouse holds a taco in one hand and a gun in the other. I found it hilarious that this Latin mouse is suppose to draw me into this restaurant to eat Mexican food. But back up to the gun and the mouse's clothes and oh yeah, the irony of the Mexican food restaurant capitalizing on using a Mexican stereotype to sell its product. There is definitely something disturbing about this whole thing.
I also tried to see if there was a website for this restaurant, but I couldn't find anything. All I came up with was a few reviews. Someone said, "What a find this place is! Seriously good tacos and burritos at a fantastic price! You really wouldn't expect a place like this to exist in La Jolla, but it's there and it's great." From what I gather this isn't an upscale restaurant and being in La Jolla I see where this person was going with their comment. Well, I guess I'm just falling into the La Jolla "pompous" stereotype. But this person's comment made me think...Who is this restaurant marketing its product to. Who is attracted to mice? Or are the readers suppose to associate this Latino mouse with a Mexican identity and therefore the food must be good because its authentic Mexican cuisine?!?!?! Quite a stretch, don't you think?!?!
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
e725 Ace Reporter Natasha, checks into the Obscene Machine labyrinth with a worthy posting on Hans Bellmer's work:
Subject: blog submission
Date: Tue, 3 Apr 2007 12:35:58 -0700
I came across an artist that I felt we could apply to our class and many of the works we have been sharing. Hans Bellmer (1902- 1975) was a French sculpture and photographer.
Among the art world, he was thought as a Surrealist. He was best known for his bizarre, life-sized dolls that he created in the 1930's. He first started making the dolls to oppose fascism of the Nazi Party. Many of the doll parts and poses were extremely odd and unusual, many with 'mutated forms and unconventional poses.' (see plates) He designed the doll project to renounce the Nazi Party's idea of the 'perfect body.' Bellmer was forced to flee to Paris after the Nazi Party declared his work immoral. Although his work was more broadly accepted in Paris, he did spend most of WWII in prison but did eventually resided in Paris. He stopped making dolls and for the rest of his life proceeded creating erotic drawings, paintings, and photographs depicting adolescent girls.
Today, more than ever with so many anorexic models, actresses, musicians, role models etc (who desperately need to be fed )...we need to send a positive message to our youth and campaign for better representation of young women in our advertisements. If not the consequences could be severe. Bellmer's work shows us that these issues have been pressing since the beginning of time.
Thank you! Natasha
Monday, April 02, 2007
While my e725 students are out researching Frantz Fanon, and my undergraduates are reading film theory about Mandingo, Richard Fleischer's schlock race opera, Details Magazine emerges this week with a sordid tale of 21st-Century purveyors of the Mandingo aesthetic. Click on these images if you dare.
Devoted e725 scribe Sarah Smorol has check in with an illustrated posting:
From: sarah smorol
Subject: Black mannequins, white masks?
Hello Dr. N- well, I thought I'd look around for what some current literal American Black mannequins might look like and this is what I came up with- Sarah
Black Mannequins, White Masks?
These are Nike Mannequins from 2000. (note the features of the central figure)
Daffy's Clothing Store in SOHO, 2005- no comment neccesary.
This is TYRA, available at a company that sells products to hairdressers.
She is touted as having "100% human hair on a black face". Did someone say blackface? Also, if the hair is "human" yet doesn't reflect natural African hair, then is African hair not "human"? Her eyes are blue in the only way they can be- (the white models sold alongside TYRA are not wearing this blue eye-shadow)This may be reading in, but I wonder...
The black mannequins below have no eyes, no windows to the soul...Perhaps the soul is too black to see as Fanon discusses(repudiates)?
Finally, allow me to juxtapose two extractions from popular culture, namely a Hollywood blockbuster by the name of I, Robot.
The first image is Will Smith in the center of the letter i with the word robot beneath and behind him the robot minions that hope to destroy humankind- it seems Will is the forerunning image that is the i. The second is the French version of the poster- in this the central image is of the robot (with seemingly anglo features and blue eyes), but what is interesting is the catch phrase"Nous confions nos maison, nos enfants, nos vies. Mais avons-nous raison de leur faire confiance?" which translates to "We Trust them with our homes, our children, our lives. But Do we have reason to give them this confidence?"(I cannot move this image but it exists in the meta(l)morphosis powerpoint in our Obscene machine blog). Here we find the sentiment given all the housecleaners, nannies and low-level workers, a fear of the other.
In the image on the right Will Smith seeks to identify the "malfunctioning" robot that wants to be a Man. This robot is named, yes, Sonny. (Think of the diminutive "son" used to call adult black males by condescending whites) The robot, the technological, is now humankinds slave and when it wants to be treated as human it must be destroyed- it's humanity is a threat to society. All of the "fear of the other" psychology we have learned about is visible in this parallel. The black man(Smith) is human but now must prevent the machine from reaching that status. I would argue that this is a way to replay the superior/inferior complex in the politically correct society.