30 June 2013
San Francisco as the Miner's Canary ~ And then the Rest of Us
"What do the U.S. government and Silicon Valley already have in common? Above all, they want to remain opaque while making the rest of us entirely transparent through the capture of our data. What is arising is simply a new form of government, involving vast entities with the reach and power of government and little accountability to anyone."here numerous times, is among our brightest, most insightful public intellectuals, has a new book. You can find it here. This week I used my first trip to Literati, the new independent bookshop in Ann Arbor to pick up a copy. So, while I have the book, I've not read it yet. You can find an interview with Solnit here at NPR. And you can find an even more recent offering - an essay dissecting the insidious usurpations of high-tech corporations in Silicon Valley. For Solnit, San Francisco - the city were she lives - is like the canary in the mine shaft. That said, her lament is not just for the ways money and privilege and cluelessness are undermining life in that city. At a more general level Solnit reminds us, as in the passage I lifted above, of Foucault's warning that visibility is a trap.
Photography - Organizational Travails
Greenwald & the "Journalists" (2)
Greenwald & the "Journalists"
"You can be a journalist who is an advocate and advances a political point of view. Or one who remains politically agnostic. Both are legitimate. But what really matters is the information that enters the public sphere, its validity, how it is presented, and any debate it provokes. Not who put it there in the first place, or even why they did it."My friend Michael Shaw forwarded a link to this smart commentary by John McQuiad at Forbes (of all places) on the more or less hysterical reaction in the mainstream press to Glenn Greenwald's role in breaking the NSA surveillance story. The commentary is mis-titled "Why Glenn Greenwald Drives the Media Crazy." McQuaid actually does not do more than document that Greenwald does drive them nuts. He never gets around to telling us "why."
My take is that most journalists in the U.S. play the role of stenographer to talking heads from (mostly center-to-right wing) "intellectuals," business mouthpieces, and government officials. And if that is what it means to be a journalist, then Greenwald surely is not one. But, that is hardly a defensible conception of "journalist." In any case, the conclusion to the piece (quoted at the top) is just right. The enterprise of policing the boundaries of journalism is a sideshow. The mainstream media ought to be concerned less with professing to report news from some fantasy world of detachment and objectivity and more with figuring out what is going on in the world and letting the rest of us know. The story here is about widespread, secret government surveillance of regular citizens.
28 June 2013
Labels: Ann Arbor
27 June 2013
The Taksim Square Book Club
26 June 2013
The Court and Voting Rights
22 June 2013
Summer Music - Trio 3 + Jason Moran
19 June 2013
Using Drones to Make Magic Not War
17 June 2013
Pie Is For Eating, Not Viewing
Just so, for reasons Hickey elaborates. And here at WaPo is a clever demonstration, via pie charts, of why they are particularly problematic.
16 June 2013
Tufte on the NSA Prism Slides
12 June 2013
Wall On Wall
It seems to me that this project prompts serious thought about a theme I have pursued here pretty regularly - the diverse political uses of walls, the nature of borders, the politics of distinction and difference. Keep an eye on it!
08 June 2013
Gezi Park - Reminders for Political Theorists
07 June 2013
Making Fun of Conservatives on Bikes ... or Not.
06 June 2013
How China Sees the World
05 June 2013
Turkey ~ Images, Hypocrisy, Commentary
"We are concerned by the reports of excessive use of force by police. We obviously hope that there will be a full investigation of those incidents and full restraint from the police force." - John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of StateThe Obama administration is speaking out on the violent official response to political protests in Turkey. And they are right to do so. Here is the series of images encapsulating that response.
The image depicts Ceyda Sungur being pepper sprayed - unprovoked - by a police officer in Gezi Park, the central locus of protest in Istanbul. You can find some background on the image here at The Guardian. More on the protests below. But this image does nothing so forcefully as recall images (like, for instance, this and this) of various American law enforcement officers spraying Occupiers across the country. So, first it is necessary to remind officials of the Obama administration of the coordinated, violent campaign waged against Occupy protesters in various cities here in the United States. As I have mentioned here before, there is ample evidence that that campaign was supported (perhaps actively coordinated) by Federal law enforcement agencies. In particular, Kerry's comments on the importance not just of free association but the right to assemble underscore just how anemic those freedoms are here at home.
Meanwhile the protests in Turkey has generated bunches of commentary from intellectuals of various sorts. Since most Americans no less than nothing about politics abroad, and the rest of us don't know nearly enough, perhaps a little digest will help! Economist Dani Rodrik, Nobel Prize winning novelist Orhan Pamuk, political theorist Seyla Benhabib, economist Daron Accemoglu . . . I will add more as they become available.
Update (6/6/13): Here is a commentary by Bahar Leventoglu, one of our successful PhD alums who, in addition, has herself waged a long, successful political-legal campaign for basic women's rights in Turkey - details here.
04 June 2013
Enthusiasms (37) ~ Patty Griffin
Agee & Evans ~ At It Again (Posthumously)
Yesterday evening I came across this story/review in The New York Times of a new edition of a hitherto unpublished piece by James Agee. The book* consists in the original piece or reportage Agee did on assignment for Fortune magazine. The piece never appeared there, but eventually became the text - accompanied by photographs by Walker Evans - of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. The new edition reproduces some of Evans's images too. While all this is interesting intellectually, it is especially nice for me to see that the editor of the book is John Summers, a former History PhD student here at Rochester. Actually John's adviser was my colleague Robb Westbrook who regularly sends really smart students like John my way. In any case, John wrote his thesis (an intellectual history of C. Wright Mills), taught Social Studies at Harvard for a half dozen years, published a collection of his own essays**, edited one by Mills*** and, inexplicably to me, had zero success in landing a permanent academic job.
I'd lost touch with John amidst the thankfully receding turmoil of my own life, but the story in The Times indicates that he has acquired, reorganized, and now is editing The Baffler. You can find interviews with John here and here explaining what they (the journal is something of a collective undertaking) are up to. This is the sort of publishing venture you should support - not just because it leans left, but because little magazines like The Baffler sustain a robust political, intellectual and cultural ecology - so subscribe if you can.
* James Agee. Cotton Tenants: Three Families. Photographs by Walker Evans. Edited by John Summers. Melville House 2013.
** John H. Summers. 2008. Every Fury on Earth. The Davies Group.
*** John H. Summers. 2008. The Politics of Truth: Selected Writings of C. Wright Mills. Oxford University Press.
01 June 2013
Random Thoughts on the Weekend
In any case, to get to the airport I drive a long stretch of the Lake Ontario State Parkway, which cuts across Braddock Bay, a bird haven. As I was driving some sort of hawk - pretty big, maybe an Osprey - swooped up from the water and across the road right in front of me and not much higher than the car top. It had a fish clutched in its claws, obviously intent on breakfast. Pretty impressive. But the entire episode happened in seconds.
Tomorrow is Jeff's Memorial Tournament. And that always is a hard day. I am wholly uninvolved with the tournament for many, many reasons. But here is a thought:
Your absence has gone through me
Like thread through a needle.
Everything I do is stitched with its color.
* W. S. Merwin, “Separation” from The Second Four Books of Poems (Port Townsend, Washington: Copper Canyon Press, 1993). Copyright © 1993 by W. S. Merwin.