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Review. Some Pig—Bong Joon-ho's "Okja" on Notebook | MUBI
"The South Korean auteur's eco-action-drama wrestles with the idea that attacking capitalism's symptoms will never destroy its source."



"The maltreatment of the Super Pigs is of utmost concern to Bong Joon-ho. Obsessively detail-oriented, his wide-scale panoramas of society expand to include those forgotten by the rest: the innocents who suffer as collateral damage. In his debut feature Barking Dogs Never Bite (2000), it is not the murdered dogs that receive the brunt of the blow. Rather, it is the homeless man who is arrested for eating them, whose first crime was hunger. There are the abandoned victims of the monster in The Host (2006), whose bodies lay in the dark while the government devises a cover-up; and made more literal, the poorest children on the train in Snowpiercer (2013) who are eaten by the rich.

The Super Pigs join these as some of the lowest of the low on the food chain. They are born to die and tortured every step of the way. Unbeknownst to the public, the Pigs are beaten, trapped in cages, and forced to breed. To our horror, they even possess the consciousness to know that this pain is undeserved. The beasts are a two-fold metaphor. They are martyrs for animal rights; but in the context of the entire system that Bong wishes to confront, the Super Pigs are also representative casualties of capitalism at its worst. Though human-animal comparisons risk demeaning both, even Sinclair recognized that in its brutality, money blurs the line between man and beast, flesh and meat.

This point is missed by the kind but misguided Animal Liberation Front (ALF), a radical animal rights activist group led by Jay (Paul Dano). Pitting itself against the Mirando Corporation, the ALF resorts to hijacking, spying on, and exposing corporate enemies. Its biggest weakness is that it doesn’t do much else. Even these attacks are pitiful and contradictory: in one scene, the ALF wrestles with police while simultaneously ensuring everyone that they do not like hurting people. Plagued by shortsightedness, the group’s reactive politics are shallow blows to a much larger problem."



"Bong Joon-ho is well known for the distrust of authority that fuels his films; but Okja also speaks to a concurrent distrust of the people, specifically the mob mentality of the masses. Indirectly, the public’s refusal to demand tangible change is what allows the Mirando Corporation to thrive. The ALF, still convinced of the power of awareness, unfolds its plan to take over the Super Pig parade and release graphic footage of animal cruelty at the lab and factory. When they succeed, the rest of the crowd starts to chant as flyers fall from the sky. The chaos is only satisfying for a few seconds until the irony sinks in. This is the same public that just minutes before was gleefully covered in pink and chewing on Super Pig jerky. It is hard to imagine that their knee-jerk response will be as quickly transformed into action.

The frantically paced Okja is propelled by a fear that the anti-capitalist efforts of today are not enough to inspire structural change. The middle portion is bookended by the image of the factory, a symbol that haunts Okja's entirety. The film opens in an abandoned Mirando factory that Lucy Mirando vows to reclaim. These promises are sprinkled with diluted claims like ending “world hunger” and revolutionizing the “livestock industry” (the whitewashed term for slaughterhouse) with “love.” But as we finally witness in the film’s penultimate scene, the new Mirando factory is just as bloody, only more automated. Here, reclamation is nothing more than a re-branding strategy that disguises itself with the aphorisms of mainstream environmentalism."



"The film concludes with the revelation of Mija’s selfishness. Like Hyun-seo from The Host, who can fight to survive but could never defeat the river creature even if she tried, Mija is a great girl and just that. When given the chance to save Okja, she takes it. The two return to the mountains as if the factory no longer exists. Bong Joon-ho describes Okja as a “love story.”6 The love that he refers to can only be selfish in the grand scheme of things, since the selfless act of heroism is already a futile task.

Critic Kim Hye-ri explains that the characters of Bong’s films as those “whose bodies are all they have left.”7 However disappointing, Mija’s decision to rescue the body of the one she loves is an act of devotion. And so Okja relents the cheap opportunity for an eleven-year old girl to bring an end to capitalism. Instead, the Mirando Corporation lives on and the two friends escape far from the maddening crowd as if nothing happened. Meanwhile, we as an audience are left with the flat, stinging sensation of hitting a wall. But if any feeling could so aptly reflect love in the time of capitalism, then it is this: to willingly hit a wall until an eventual point of demolition."
bongjoon-ho  okj  capitalism  2017  ebwhite  labor  politics  society  cruelty  violence  imperialism  immigrants  immigration  us  korea  globalization  authority  distrust  revolution  environmentalism  activism  animalrights  multispecies  bodies  love  kimhye-ri  kelleydong  body 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Due North | VQR Online
"I arrived in New York in October 2005 and immediately began walking all over the city, exploring for hours at a time. As I traversed its landscape, I discovered a topography of social conditions. Some days, I would linger on Thirty-Fourth Street among the glamorous workers of Midtown Manhattan rushing to and from their high-rise buildings—in swift pursuit of their ambitions, I’d assumed. I’d watch them zigzag around and dart past the enthusiastic tourists filing into the Empire State Building, that colossus rising majestically above as a beacon of hope and symbol of American derring-do.

Then I’d stride northward, eager to explore Whitman’s “Numberless crowded streets – high growths of iron, slender, strong, light, splendidly uprising toward clear skies.” A little over two hours later, I would end up in Harlem at the courtyard of a housing project on 125th Street, where residents lounged on benches and welcomed each other with cheerful banter. They also welcomed me, and I sat beside them, took one of the kiddie’s box drinks they offered, and enjoyed their jovial talk in that relaxed, open space in Harlem far removed from the hurried dynamism of Midtown.

But as I’ve circulated through New York’s streets, nothing reveals the city’s opposites in stark juxtaposition like the walk from the Upper East Side to the South Bronx, two neighborhoods separated by a brisk ninety-minute walk, or a quick twelve-minute subway ride. I’d call them neighbors were it not so clear that they occupy such distinctly different worlds. To walk the streets from one to the other, as I often do, is to bear witness to a landscape of asymmetry. The city that comes into view is one of uneven terrain, vistas of opportunity alongside pockets of deep poverty too often lost in the periphery.

In early 2006, almost six months after moving to the city, I was hobbled from roaming around because of a botched surgery on my right knee. A few months later, I switched hospitals to the Hospital for Special Surgery, located on the Upper East Side, where I eventually underwent two more surgeries to get back to walking the streets without chronic pain. As a result of the operations and follow-up physical therapy, the Upper East Side became a regular destination. I spent a lot of time watching people go about their lives, many of whom were middle- and working-class people employed in hospitals, museums, universities, hotels, and elsewhere on the Upper East Side. Plentiful as these workers were, they didn’t define the neighborhood—at least, not in a way that forcefully impresses itself upon the mind when you think of the Upper East Side. No, the population that embosses its mark on the neighborhood is the wealthy—the extraordinarily wealthy, to be precise.

The Upper East Side houses one of the richest zip codes in the US. This wealth touches almost everything in its vicinity. Many of the less-flush people I met going about their days worked at institutions that were among the world’s finest—the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Hospital for Special Surgery—and that were easy access for their upper-class neighbors. In addition to stellar medical care and world-class museums, I’d walk past some of the city’s best private schools, public libraries abuzz with parents and nannies—many of whom were foreigners—playing with children, and music schools with eager and not-so-eager kids developing their skills. Here was a neighborhood stocked with the resources for worldly success.

Walking through that part of the Upper East Side was not unlike a jaunt in a museum. On Park or Fifth Avenue, for example, one could walk for hours and admire magnificent buildings fronted by well-manicured gardens and quiet, clean sidewalks. Serenity suffused the atmosphere. Nothing seemed out of place, and, to my untrained eye, it all looked unspoiled.

There are stunning apartment buildings that look like cathedrals in high heels. Überchic boutiques—throne rooms of specialization meant to cater to people with the most rarefied, and demanding, of tastes—abound. You can pick up scented shoelaces for your teen daughter from a store filled with accessories for tweens, buy a bra for a few hundred dollars from an Italian lingerie store, and then drop off your puppy for a spa day, all in under a half hour. And, shhh, the stores were very quiet, I’ll-glare-if-you-speak-loudly quiet. I was often hushed, too, since sticker shock often dumbfounds me. Though, I should confess, something perverse in me wanted me to scream upon entering those hush-up stores.

All around are luxe restaurants with patrons to match, and sophisticated bistros with fresh-looking, pleasant-smelling—oh, those lovely scents!—upscale clientele. And for outdoor relaxation and play, Central Park is a quick stroll away—across the road, even. It’s as if the neighborhood was curated to cater to the needs and pleasures of its wealthy residents. Dig through the historical record and you’ll find that, indeed, starting with Fifth Avenue in the late nineteenth century, later joined in the early twentieth century by Park (formerly Fourth) Avenue, elegance and convenience have characterized the Upper East Side’s moneyed class and its tony residences.

Yet, for all its beauty, the neighborhood today feels like a welcome mat with spikes, or, more aptly, like a museum after closing time. You could stand nearby and look in, but that’s as far as you could go: admiration from a distance. My feet met their limit.

So much of the lives of the very wealthy was a mystery to me, not least because I couldn’t hope to stand and chat with them. The city was this enticing language I was learning, but they were a cipher. They lived, as my friend and walking companion Suketu once put it to me, in vertical gated communities—fortresses within layers of insulation. I’d see them shuttle from cabs or chauffeur-driven cars into their elegant buildings fronted by attentive doormen. Or I’d see them interacting with each other as I strolled past a posh establishment. They were sharply dressed ghosts; I would see them for a brief moment, only for them to quickly disappear into vehicles or buildings as mysteriously as they came.

There was a come-hither-stay-away quality to it all. Apartment lobbies looked inviting, but dapper doormen in their white shirts and black ties stood between you and them. Brownstones were beguiling, but you dared not sit on their steps. And I couldn’t shake the feeling that someone my shade, the color of the neighborhood’s nannies and gardeners and janitors but not their neighbors (at least, none that I saw), was more unwelcome on a stranger’s stoop.

Nor would I ever see people hanging out on their own steps. The beauty of the Upper East Side, the visual allure, had a placidity I felt detached from. There was something disquieting about all that silence. Certainly, one of the joys of living in the city is the wonderful solitude it affords, the option to, as E. B. White memorably put it, opt out and announce, “I did not attend.” The city is a place of escape as much as it’s one of pilgrimage, and, to someone outside of their circle passing through, the affluent inhabitants of the Upper East Side resemble a group who entered a compact to “not attend.” The serenity felt fragile, and I feared that if I did anything that was perceived as a threat to it, no matter how simple—approaching that friendly face to have a chat, leaning over to inhale perfumy flowers—that I would be promptly reminded that I could inhabit those streets only so much.

When I leave the Upper East Side on foot, the streets declare it to me almost immediately. I cross Ninety-Sixth Street—on Park Avenue, say, and the picturesque quickly recedes. Islands of gardens are supplanted by train tracks that tear out of the ground and rise alongside and above houses, transporting streams of Metro-North trains and dispersing noise across the neighborhood. Pristine sidewalks are replaced by dusty ones, and time and again micro-dirt tornadoes, with candy wrappers within, whirl around. And luxury mansions are replaced by tenement-type buildings, row houses, and “superblocks” of housing projects.

And the population becomes increasingly darker. A lot more. And friendlier. A lot more. More Spanish is heard (significantly so), more bodegas are seen on corners, and the hum of the Upper East Side gives way to a skipping, sometimes clamoring, beat. (On weekends with good weather, there are block parties aplenty). You almost begin to wonder—at least, I often do—if East Harlem is the town crier announcing, “Yeah, you’ve left the Upper East Side. The South Bronx is three miles, and an hour’s walk, thataway.”"



"On the way back home, Suketu drove through the Upper East Side, past glittery boutiques and sexy bistros, enticing department stores and showy high-rise apartment buildings. At that moment, I recognized that, for me, there wasn’t much difference between cutting through the neighborhood on foot and in a car. There was, of course. But leaving from Hunts Point, where time in a car away from residents removes so much of the neighborhood’s pleasure, and arriving in the Upper East Side around fifteen minutes later, only to recognize that I felt at arm’s length from a lot of its residents even when I walked through, reminded me that inequality also deprives the very wealthy. In ensconcing themselves in their circles, the very wealthy had cut themselves off from a range of perspectives and temperaments and stories—stories that are a central part of their city’s vibrancy and appeal. In Hunts Point, I witnessed deprivation due to an absence of resources; in the Upper East Side, I witnessed deprivation of a different, but related sort: the absence of enriching interactions.

I became an obsessive walker as a matter of necessity. Too poor to take taxis when I was growing up in Jamaica, and living in a … [more]
walking  serendipity  2014  garnettecadogan  nyc  inequality  discovery  wonder  possibility  ebwhite  wealth  waltwhitman  rebeccasolnit  micheldecerteau  observation  flaneur 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Austin Kleon — How to graciously say no to anyone
"A couple of years ago, I was getting sent this article, “Creative People Say No,” at least twice a day. The idea was that creative geniuses say “no” to a lot of requests (like, a psychology professor researching processes of creative genius) in order to get their work done, so if you want to be a creative genius, you have to say no a lot so you can get your work done.

A bunch of people asked me what I thought about it, and I said, “It’s good advice for the rich and famous. Creative people say yes until they have enough work that they can say no.”"
no  advice  austinkleon  ebwhite  robertheinlein  carlsandburg  rejection  raw  zyzzyva  howardjunker  edmundwilson  bernardshaw  evelynwaugh  grouchomarx  sayingno  ianbogost  time  attention  correspondence  letters 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Full stack writing (and publishing): Welcome to Hi – Tokyo, Japan — A Hi Moment
"Hi is what we call a “full stack”1 writing and publishing platform. Just what is a writing stack? Capture. Write. Publish. is our summary of it, but really it breaks down into five parts:

Sudden inspiration!
Capture
Draft
Publish
Converse
Some platforms provide tools for parts of the stack.
Hi gives you tools for the full stack.
All the pancakes.

**All the pancakes**

What advantages come from having all of your pancakes in one place? The biggest advantage is that it’s easy to weave community into each stage of the writing process. This creates a unique intimacy with an audience. It also makes building an audience feel accessible. In fact, writing on Hi feels less like using a set of tools and more like having an increasingly deepening, extended conversation.

In service to this, much of the work we’ve done these past eight months has been explicitly focused on community building. For example, we have a Welcome Committee at Hi. (Of course, please join if you feel so inclined.) And all conversations for each Hi member are consolidated under a single stream called, unsurprisingly, Conversations.

As you post sketches (our term for short snippets that then turn into longer stories), our community gently prods you to Tell them more. And as you publish finished stories, our community responds with a chorus of Thanks. It may not sound like much, but those two, simple actions create a powerful feedback loop predicated on guidance and optimism.

**Sense and sense making**

Another advantage of having all your pancakes one place is that as a moment moves from sketch to published story, the address (its URL) stays the same. Sketches and stories intermingle. We like to describe sketches as sensing and the full stories as sense making. On Hi, the sense and sense making happen in parallel.

**Real-time**

Which points to another key attribute of Hi: Real-time. Because Hi and our community encourages lots of sketching, we’ve made sure Hi works where inspiration hits — on mobile platforms.2 Location is an integral part of any Hi moment.

What happens when you give a community real-time and mobile friendly tools? They “narratively map the world.”

Thomas Clark in his epic travel poem, In Praise of Walking, describes variously the traversed routes of the world:
Always, everywhere, people have walked, veining the earth with paths, visible and invisible, symmetrical and meandering.


Give folks the proper tools and those veined paths — both as etched into the earth and into our minds — suddenly become more concrete, real, with each sketch or story on Hi existing as a marker in time and place.

**Loops**

Finally, Hi acts — prosaically yet powerfully — as a mailing list. Readers who have asked a writer to “Tell me more” are notified by email when the writer has, indeed, written more. And a writer’s subscribers will similarly get an email when they publish a new story.

In other words: the full stack writing experience on Hi is, at its core, an interlocking set of feedback loops built atop our great community.

For example, when poet Lia Pas sketches about a new iPad, we want her to Tell us more, and so she does: [image]

Or when Luis sketched rather cryptically about a graveyard in Tokyo … he told us more and it was a doozie: [image]

**Writing and rewriting**

Does this full stack of publishing pancakes work for all types of writing? Of course not. Certain writing doesn’t benefit from an everything-public, community-everywhere stack like that of Hi. In fact, certain writing can only be accomplished off the stack. Which is to say there is a meditative quality that presents itself when you move away from an environment like ours.3

But! Many types of writing benefit from, and thrive, within Hi’s full stack.

Travel writing — writing with location at its core — obviously feels at home on this full stack. Real-time, iterative journalism (the covering of protests, emerging and evolving stories, etc) benefits from full stack tools wrapped in community.4 Journaling or chronicling feels particularly comfy on this full stack.

Uniquely, writing almost has to happen in stages. An instagram photo may be finished as soon as its taken, and a sketch on Hi might be worked out the instant it’s posted, but, a longer story? That (usually) needs much more time. E. B. White is famously quoted, “Writing is rewriting.” If you’re looking for thoughtfulness, a piece of writing needs multiple passes. 5

Which is why we’ve deliberately embedded enclaves of calm into our stack. The capture process happens with whatever device you have in hand, as soon as inspiration hits. But the followup or drafting or sense making — the more meditative processes of rewriting — can happen either on that same device, a tablet, or on the desktop. And it can happen minutes, days, or months later.

Which is to say that life happens in real-time but thoughtfulness happens in slow-motion, requiring appropriate time and distance from an event, an insight, a moment. The tools of any full stack writing platform should understand, respond to, and respect that.

**Community**

Hi is a community. A community both narratively mapping the world, and making sense of their everyday lives, their loves, fears, joys, insights — all as connected to place and bound together by topic.

We’ve had a blast these past eight months working on Hi, straightening out the kinks, tightening the feedback loops, making the community feel stronger and more easily connected to one another. Hi is still not perfect, and it’s not for every kind of writer, but if sounds interesting to you, we’d love for you to join us at the table. There’s pancakes aplenty. "
craigmod  hitotoki  writing  howwewrite  publishing  ebooks  blogging  epublishing  web  internet  hi  hi.co  2014  process  walking  place  thomasclark  maps  mapping  time  timing  rewriting  editing  feedback  community  instagram  photography  inspiration  communication  ebwhite  blogs  sharing  digitalpublishing 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Have you ever come across a description of someone and thought, "If I could do ANY thing, be ANY way, this is it"? - what what
"EB White, writer of what are almost certainly the best pig stories ever put to paper*, was once described as exemplifying “eloquence without affectation, profundity without pomposity, and wit without frivolity or hostility” - as well as “creative, humane and graceful.”

I don’t know that it gets any better than this.

* Death of a Pig (1948) and Charlotte’s Web (1952)"
ebwhite  writing  pigs  affectation  eloquence  profundity  pomposity  wit  frivolity  hostility  grace  humanity  creativity  aspiration  annegalloway  2013 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Children of Troy « Snarkmarket
"This little correspondence cracked like lightning in my head. I mean, it’s no big deal; it’s a small thing, it’s a letter, they were both in Michigan, it makes perfect sense. And yet, and yet: Clifton Wharton, president of Michigan State University, and Marguerite Hart, librarian of Troy—a tangible thread connected them. And as soon as you realize that, you can’t help but imagine the other threads, the other connections, that all together make a net, woven before you were born, before you were even dreamed of—a net to catch you, support you, lift you up. Libraries and universities, books and free spaces—all for us, all of us, the children of Troy everywhere.

What fortune. Born at the right time."

[…]

"And it’s not the librarian laughing and crying at the same time here; it’s me. Every time I’ve read these letters, it’s me."
snarkmarket  robinsloan  libraries  troy  cityoftroy  books  memories  memory  childhood  reading  librarians  connections  knowledge  freespaces  letters  universities  michigan  michiganstate  ebwhite  isaacasimov  cliftonwharton  margueritehart  johnburns  1971  2011  publiclibraries  education  learning  experience  comments 
june 2011 by robertogreco

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