회사에서 친목다진다고 ‘우리 부 매너남과 미소천사 뽑기’ 쪽지투표를 했다 *grits teeth*
I will have an undergraduate class, let’s say a young white male student, politically-correct, who will say: ‘I am only a bourgeois white male, I can’t speak.’ …I say to them: ‘Why not develop a certain degree of rage against the history that has written such an abject script for you that you are silenced?’ Then you begin to investigate what it is that silences you, rather than take this very determinist position - since my skin colour is this, since my sex is this, I cannot speak… From this position, then, I say you will of course not speak in the same way about the Third World material, but if you make it your task not only to learn what is going on there through language, through specific programmes of study, but also at the same time through a historical critique of your position as the investigating person, then you will have earned the right to criticize, you be heard. When you take the position of not doing your homework - ‘I will not criticize because of my accident of birth, the historical accident’ - that is the much more pernicious position.
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (via silencedohood)
1. tuesday this week was 추석 and my dad and brother and i went to my grandmother’s for 제사. my first in eight years but not much was different from before—the women making food and wiping down all the wooden dishes for the ceremony, primping the food into small towers, carrying the food into the living room where the men are chatting. all the fruit this year is enormous, pears and apples the size of small melons, the tangerines bigger than my palm. in the kitchen my grandmother and aunts talk about how difficult it is to find fish caught in Korean seas at markets now. i don’t know what the men talk about.
2. dad, JH and i come home before lunchtime and i make more food. i’m not good at grilling fish but i feel good doing it, knowing if i don’t cook my dad and brother would probably just suggest getting delivery food or eating out. usually this would make me mad but i don’t know why it doesn’t this time. i set the table and call them to eat but i think i should call my other grandmother so i do, the grandmother i wanted to spend 추석 with but couldn’t because i didn’t look for train tickets on time. on the phone she talks about the rice cakes she would have made with me if i were there. she asks me if i ate 토란국, did i make 전, and my throat is tight answering her but her voice doesn’t break until she says i miss your mother.
3. i proceed to get angry at my grandmother, the way my mother does when she thinks 할머니’s tears are a waste. she should live her life and stop worrying about mine, my mother says. and i think of the time when i was 9 and told her i need my own space and she said that is the most ridiculous thing i have heard you say. and i think of all the times my grandmother tells me the story of taking 5-year-old me on a walk where some old man told her, you hold hands with her now, but just wait ten years! she’ll be telling you to get out of her room! to which my grandmother replied, my granddaughter won’t be that way.
4. i proceed to get angry at my grandmother, the way my mother does, except i am also crying, and i hang up without asking to talk to my grandfather because i don’t cry in front of him.
5. later when i sit down to eat dinner JH and dad have moved to the living room and the fish is cold. it’s from 제주도.
6. the next day my brother leaves for seoul and for dinner dad grills 고등어. he burns it a little bit and sucks his teeth a bunch the whole time he is cooking it. i don’t know where it’s from, maybe russia?
Kicking off our streetstyle from #nyfw is Aussie blogger @thehautepersuit aka Vanessa Hong in a blush pink wrap maxi outside the Lincoln Center.
Sorry I don't know you and you don't know me, but as someone who is thinking a lot about this, I ask of you- doesn't theory seem hopelessly self-indulgent sometimes? How can one be sure of a path in liberal arts and academia when it hits one as being just big words and me me me most of the time?
hi, thanks for your question—nothing to apologise about at all.
the simple answer is: yes, it can be? all of it? but this is the brilliant thing about it—it is ultimately what you make of it, and how you choose to let it filter into your praxis. a lot of stuf i read i find really useless but is equally interesting/relevant to other people whom i love/share political praxis with. and how does that work, right? how can spivak be so irrelevant to someone and levinas (whom i actually like) be so irrelevant to me?
which is to say—theory is not one big ‘whole’ that can be subsumed under the liberal arts. it’s ultimately about how useful/productive an idea is. there are limits to all, which is not what i knew when i started doing my phd—i thought of theorists as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and was just paranoid about having the right opinions, which, wow, what a waste of time but also how necessary. IRONICALLY, it was eve sedgwick who calmed me down and helped me get over this. and she’s, well, theory?
people are relevant in all kinds of ways: i don’t like fanon, but that’s because i find someone else more useful to me/my work than him. this is not a comment on fanon himself per se, more about my relationship to his thought and its limitations. so no, it’s not ‘big words’ all the time (aerodynamics and thermodynamics are big words, fyi, as is ‘curling iron’ if i have no idea what it means) or even ‘me me me’ (which some white philosophers can be but context will reveal how/why/when and enlightenment shit).
ANYTHING can be hopelessly self-indulgent, and theory is no exception. i see the STEM discipline people talking sometimes (and you know, they’re said to produce more ‘useful’ work, which is utter bullshit) and a lot of their ideas/ways of living are so out of gender/politics/race, and THAT seems like self-indulgent to me. now is this a comment on the discipline or on the people practicising within it?
as theory would ideally ask, which idea is more useful to you?
a lot of useful theory is also really compassionate, for me. i love derrida for this reason, and some sara ahmed, for eg, and don’t like heidegger even though he was super-important in some ways. so that’s just how i’m making sense of what i read? the most useless idea for me, though, is to try and contain all of it under ONE giant umbrella that is out to change the direction of the wind. one cannot be sure of a path in ANYTHING. personally, critical theory has changed my life in extraordinary ways, and has made me a more compassionate thinker (the singular thing i am proud of perhaps) or at least, forces me to confront ethics everyday. it can be an excuse to jerk off in public but that really depends on whether you use it as a tool of oppression/bullying, like all knowledge, or as something to improve life and ideas with.
my advice would be: read, read, read, read everything you’re not supposed to, don’t try and summarize thinkers in one line (tumblr can be terrible for that), find your own limits, try and talk to people who enjoy theory and see it as useful/beautiful instead of as something that is a status symbol. don’t be afraid to say you don’t know something/haven’t read something, and don’t be defensive about it. above all, ENJOY thinking and pushing your limits and making yourself thoroughly uncomfortable. allow yourself to be challenged by the unimportant, and the unexpected.
ps: not sure when you sent me this, but hope you come across it and read it anyway?
TESS GIBERSON FW 2014
maybe i will grow my hair out
there is something about solange and the busan subway that allows the two to work.
maybe it’s the in-between tempo of the songs on TRUE—not drawn out, not harried—and how i feel my feet ready to dance and stay put at the same time;
the rhythm parallels the particular hubbub of bodies on the metro, a regularly timed ebb and flow. the vehicle continuously moving: even when the metal stops, the people don’t. from my corner seat view, sneakers and heels and brogues and sandals shuffle across the floor to: we’d accidentally meet purposely.
(here, the priority seat for pregnant women, umbrella standing between my knees. in front of me, a wrist wearing a baby blue watch with plastic diamonds around its face. across the aisle, new sneakers with blue laces, worn with tight black jeans and a shirt that says PARISIEN. three seats away, a corncob bitten into, a joke told.)
in a certain sense, the sadness of some things never seem to fucking work is hidden, understated. there is the seem, and not once the mention of tears. but the beauty of this song for me is in the heartache laid bare; the song so avoids becoming a pity-inspiring narrative. some things never seem to fucking work—she states, she sings. if this is a tragedy it is a tragedy made plain, because tragedies, like comedies, are mundane. so maybe then we’re better off, and we near our next stop-destination.
あえて 空気 読みません
Why look for a history? Why look for a past? We are driven by longing, by desire, by pain: because we are made to feel insecure about our very existence, because we are afraid to tell our families about our lovers, because we are invalidated by larger society, because we feel like outsiders from too many places, because we have been cut off from historical connection and ancestral roots by various degrees of coercion. For all these reasons and more, history can be a valuable source of validation and legitimization.
[But] the history of a queer and diasporic homeland is not about the Truth. It is about present-day investments and motivations. It is about present-day mediations, about the necessary interpretation and subsequent representation that go into producing a historical narrative.
I think this kind of self-awareness is absolutely crucial when discussing Korea, which, like it or not, for many Korean Americans is as much an “imagined homeland” as it is a “motherland”:
Being accountable to a politics of position means recognizing embedment and complicity. This means acknowledging that for those of us currently located in the West, our narration of a diasporic history is mediated by a Western viewpoint, to the different degrees with which we rely upon Western assumptions and representations. I am not arguing that diasporic peoples should not imagine homelands and reconstruct cultural and queer identities or that we are somehow inauthentic in doing so. And I do not mean to imply that Western beliefs form a homogeneous or consistent system. I am simply proposing that our embedment in the structures and thought processes of the West, diverse and contradictory as they are, is not only inescapable but, in fact, constitutive. We construct our pasts, identities, and homes in and through Western eyes. There is no pure space of marginality in which we stand outside of complicity. Thus the “Korea” in my Korean American identity is shaped partly in and through hegemonic U.S. representations of Korea as an exotic Oriental tourist destination, as the land of irrational violent protest, as the site of an unstable nuclear confrontation; these representations are as equally constitutive of my Korea as are such arguably more firsthand sites of knowledge as my parents’ ideas about Korea and my own experiences there.