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Rebecca Solnit: When the Hero is the Problem | Literary Hub
"Positive social change results mostly from connecting more deeply to the people around you than rising above them, from coordinated rather than solo action. Among the virtues that matter are those traditionally considered feminine rather than masculine, more nerd than jock: listening, respect, patience, negotiation, strategic planning, storytelling. But we like our lone and exceptional heroes, and the drama of violence and virtue of muscle, or at least that’s what we get, over and over, and in the course of getting them we don’t get much of a picture of how change happens and what our role in it might be, or how ordinary people matter. “Unhappy the land that needs heroes” is a line of Bertold Brecht’s I’ve gone to dozens of times, but now I’m more inclined to think, pity the land that thinks it needs a hero, or doesn’t know it has lots and what they look like."



"William James said of the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, “Surely the cutting edge of all our usual misfortunes comes from their character of loneliness.” That is, if I lose my home, I’m cast out among those who remain comfortable, but if we all lose our homes in the earthquake, we’re in this together. One of my favorite sentences from a 1906 survivor is this: “Then when the dynamite explosions were making the night noisy and keeping everybody awake and anxious, the girls or some of the refugees would start playing the piano, and Billy Delaney and other folks would start singing; so that the place became quite homey and sociable, considering it was on the sidewalk, outside the high school, and the town all around it was on fire.”

I don’t know what Billy Delaney or the girls sang, or what stories the oat gatherers Le Guin writes about might have told. But I do have a metaphor, which is itself a kind of carrier bag and metaphor literally means to carry something beyond, carrying being the basic thing language does, language being great nets we weave to hold meaning. Jonathan Jones, an indigenous Wiradjuri/Kamilaroi Australian artist, has an installation—a great infinity-loop figure eight of feathered objects on a curving wall in the Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art in Brisbane that mimics a murmuration, one of those great flocks of birds in flight that seems to swell and contract and shift as the myriad individual creatures climb and bank and turn together, not crashing into each other, not drifting apart.

From a distance Jones’s objects look like birds; up close they are traditional tools of stick and stone with feathers attached, tools of making taking flight. The feathers were given to him by hundreds who responded to the call he put out, a murmuration of gatherers. “I’m interested in this idea of collective thinking,” he told a journalist. “How the formation of really beautiful patterns and arrangements in the sky can help us potentially start to understand how we exist in this country, how we operate together, how we can all call ourselves Australians. That we all have our own little ideas which can somehow come together to make something bigger.”

What are human murmurations, I wondered? They are, speaking of choruses, in Horton Hears a Who, the tiny Whos of Whoville, who find that if every last one of them raises their voice, they become loud enough to save their home. They are a million and a half young people across the globe on March 15 protesting climate change, coalitions led by Native people holding back fossil fuel pipelines across Canada, the lawyers and others who converged on airports all over the US on January 29, 2017, to protest the Muslim ban.

They are the hundreds who turned out in Victoria, BC, to protect a mosque there during Friday prayers the week after the shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand. My cousin Jessica was one of them, and she wrote about how deeply moving it was for her, “At the end, when prayers were over, and the mosque was emptying onto the street, if felt like a wedding, a celebration of love and joy. We all shook hands and hugged and spoke kindly to each other—Muslim, Jew, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist, atheist…” We don’t have enough art to make us see and prize these human murmurations even when they are all around us, even when they are doing the most important work on earth."
rebeccasolnit  heroes  change  democracy  collectivism  multitudes  2019  robertmueller  gretathunberg  society  movements  murmurations 
4 weeks ago by robertogreco
The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction by Ursula K. Le Guin
"In the temperate and tropical regions where it appears that hominids evolved into human beings, the principal food of the species was vegetable. Sixty-five to eighty percent of what human beings ate in those regions in Paleolithic, Neolithic, and prehistoric times was gathered; only in the extreme Arctic was meat the staple food. The mammoth hunters spectacularly occupy the cave wall and the mind, but what we actually did to stay alive and fat was gather seeds, roots, sprouts, shoots, leaves, nuts, berries, fruits, and grains, adding bugs and mollusks and netting or snaring birds, fish, rats, rabbits, and other tuskless small fry to up the protein. And we didn't even work hard at it--much less hard than peasants slaving in somebody else's field after agriculture was invented, much less hard than paid workers since civilization was invented. The average prehistoric person could make a nice living in about a fifteen-hour work week.

Fifteen hours a week for subsistence leaves a lot of time for other things. So much time that maybe the restless ones who didn't have a baby around to enliven their life, or skill in making or cooking or singing, or very interesting thoughts to think, decided to slope off and hunt mammoths. The skillful hunters then would come staggering back with a load of meat, a lot of ivory, and a story. It wasn't the meat that made the difference. It was the story.

It is hard to tell a really gripping tale of how I wrested a wild-oat seed from its husk, and then another, and then another, and then another, and then another, and then I scratched my gnat bites, and Ool said something funny, and we went to the creek and got a drink and watched newts for a while, and then I found another patch of oats.... No, it does not compare, it cannot compete with how I thrust my spear deep into the titanic hairy flank white Oob, impaled on one huge sweeping tusk, writhed screaming, and blood spouted everywhere in crimson torrents, and Boob was crushed to jelly when the mammoth fell on him as I shot my unerring arrow straight through eye to brain.

That story not only has Action, it has a Hero. Heroes are powerful. Before you know it, the men and women in the wild-oat patch and their kids and the skills of the makers and the thoughts of the thoughtful and the songs of the singers are all part of it, have all been pressed into service in the tale of the Hero. But it isn't their story. It's his.

When she was planning the book that ended up as Three Guineas, Virginia Woolf wrote a heading in her notebook, "Glossary"; she had thought of reinventing English according to a new plan, in order to tell a different story. One of the entries in this glossary is heroism, defined as "botulism." And hero, in Woolf's dictionary, is "bottle." The hero as bottle, a stringent reevaluation. I now propose the bottle as hero.

Not just the bottle of gin or wine, but bottle in its older sense of container in general, a thing that holds something else.

If you haven't got something to put it in, food will escape you--even something as uncombative and unresourceful as an oat. You put as many as you can into your stomach while they are handy, that being the primary container; but what about tomorrow morning when you wake up and it's cold and raining and wouldn't it be good to have just a few handfuls of oats to chew on and give little Oom to make her shut up, but how do you get more than one stomachful and one handful home? So you get up and go to the damned soggy oat patch in the rain, and wouldn't it be a good thing if you had something to put Baby Oo Oo in so that you could pick the oats with both hands? A leaf a gourd a shell a net a bag a sling a sack a bottle a pot a box a container. A holder. A recipient.

The first cultural device was probably a recipient .... Many theorizers feel that the earliest cultural inventions must have been a container to hold gathered products and some kind of sling or net carrier.

So says Elizabeth Fisher in Women's Creation (McGraw-Hill, 1975). But no, this cannot be. Where is that wonderful, big, long, hard thing, a bone, I believe, that the Ape Man first bashed somebody with in the movie and then, grunting with ecstasy at having achieved the first proper murder, flung up into the sky, and whirling there it became a space ship thrusting its way into the cosmos to fertilize it and produce at the end of the movie a lovely fetus, a boy of course, drifting around the Milky Way without (oddly enough) any womb, any matrix at all? I don't know. I don't even care. I'm not telling that story. We've heard it, we've all heard all about all the sticks spears and swords, the things to bash and poke and hit with, the long, hard things, but we have not heard about the thing to put things in, the container for the thing contained. That is a new story. That is news.

And yet old. Before--once you think about it, surely long before--the weapon, a late, luxurious, superfluous tool; long before the useful knife and ax; right along with the indispensable whacker, grinder, and digger-- for what's the use of digging up a lot of potatoes if you have nothing to lug ones you can't eat home in--with or before the tool that forces energy outward, we made the tool that brings energy home. It makes sense to me. I am an adherent of what Fisher calls the Carrier Bag Theory of human evolution.

This theory not only explains large areas of theoretical obscurity and avoids large areas of theoretical nonsense (inhabited largely by tigers, foxes, other highly territorial mammals); it also grounds me, personally, in human culture in a way I never felt grounded before. So long as culture was explained as originating from and elaborating upon the use of long, hard objects for sticking, bashing, and killing, I never thought that I had, or wanted, any particular share in it. ("What Freud mistook for her lack of civilization is woman's lack of loyalty to civilization," Lillian Smith observed.) The society, the civilization they were talking about, these theoreticians, was evidently theirs; they owned it, they liked it; they were human, fully human, bashing, sticking, thrusting, killing. Wanting to be human too, I sought for evidence that I was; but if that's what it took, to make a weapon and kill with it, then evidently I was either extremely defective as a human being, or not human at all.

That's right, they said. What you are is a woman. Possibly not human at all, certainly defective. Now be quiet while we go on telling the Story of the Ascent of Man the Hero.

Go on, say I, wandering off towards the wild oats, with Oo Oo in the sling and little Oom carrying the basket. You just go on telling how the mammoth fell on Boob and how Cain fell on Abel and how the bomb fell on Nagasaki and how the burning jelly fell on the villagers and how the missiles will fall on the Evil Empire, and all the other steps in the Ascent of Man.

If it is a human thing to do to put something you want, because it's useful, edible, or beautiful, into a bag, or a basket, or a bit of rolled bark or leaf, or a net woven of your own hair, or what have you, and then take it home with you, home being another, larger kind of pouch or bag, a container for people, and then later on you take it out and eat it or share it or store it up for winter in a solider container or put it in the medicine bundle or the shrine or the museum, the holy place, the area that contains what is sacred, and then next day you probably do much the same again--if to do that is human, if that's what it takes, then I am a human being after all. Fully, freely, gladly, for the first time.

Not, let it be said at once, an unaggressive or uncombative human being. I am an aging, angry woman laying mightily about me with my handbag, fighting hoodlums off. However I don't, nor does anybody else, consider myself heroic for doing so. It's just one of those damned things you have to do in order to be able to go on gathering wild oats and telling stories.

It is the story that makes the difference. It is the story that hid my humanity from me, the story the mammoth hunters told about bashing, thrusting, raping, killing, about the Hero. The wonderful, poisonous story of Botulism. The killer story.

It sometimes seems that that story is approaching its end. Lest there be no more telling of stories at all, some of us out here in the wild oats, amid the alien corn, think we'd better start telling another one, which maybe people can go on with when the old one's finished. Maybe. The trouble is, we've all let ourselves become part of the killer story, and so we may get finished along with it. Hence it is with a certain feeling of urgency that I seek the nature, subject, words of the other story, the untold one, the life story.

It's unfamiliar, it doesn't come easily, thoughtlessly to the lips as the killer story does; but still, "untold" was an exaggeration. People have been telling the life story for ages, in all sorts of words and ways. Myths of creation and transformation, trickster stories, folktales, jokes, novels...

The novel is a fundamentally unheroic kind of story. Of course the Hero has frequently taken it over, that being his imperial nature and uncontrollable impulse, to take everything over and run it while making stern decrees and laws to control his uncontrollable impulse to kill it. So the Hero has decreed through his mouthpieces the Lawgivers, first, that the proper shape of the narrative is that of the arrow or spear, starting here and going straight there and THOK! hitting its mark (which drops dead); second, that the central concern of narrative, including the novel, is conflict; and third, that the story isn't any good if he isn't in it.

I differ with all of this. I would go so far as to say that the natural, proper, fitting shape of the novel might be that of a sack, a bag. A book holds words. Words hold things. They bear meanings. A novel is a medicine bundle, holding things in a particular, powerful relation to one another and to us.

One relationship among elements in the novel … [more]
ursulaleguin  1986  marxism  economics  labor  work  capitalism  feminism  writing  stories  storytelling  heroes  virginiawoolf  elziabethfisher  lilliansmith  humans  human  hunter-gatherers  humanity  scifi  sciencefiction  fiction  literature 
january 2018 by robertogreco
HEWN, No. 250
"I wrote a book review this week of Brian Dear’s The Friendly Orange Glow: The Untold History of of PLATO System and the Dawn of Cyberculture. My review’s a rumination on how powerful the mythologizing is around tech, around a certain version of the history of technology – “the Silicon Valley narrative,” as I’ve called this elsewhere – so much so that we can hardly imagine that there are other stories to tell, other technologies to build, other practices to adopt, other ways of being, and so on.

I was working on the book review when I heard the news Tuesday evening that the great author Ursula K. Le Guin had passed away, I immediately thought of her essay “The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction” – her thoughts on storytelling about spears and storytelling about bags and what we might glean from a culture (and a genre) that praises the former and denigrates the latter.
If science fiction is the mythology of modern technology, then its myth is tragic. “Technology,” or “modern science” (using the words as they are usually used, in an unexamined shorthand standing for the “hard” sciences and high technology founded upon continuous economic growth), is a heroic undertaking, Herculean, Promethean, conceived as triumph, hence ultimately as tragedy. The fiction embodying this myth will be, and has been, triumphant (Man conquers earth, space, aliens, death, the future, etc.) and tragic (apocalypse, holocaust, then or now).

If, however, one avoids the linear, progressive, Time’s-(killing)-arrow mode of the Techno-Heroic, and redefines technology and science as primarily cultural carrier bag rather than weapon of domination, one pleasant side effect is that science fiction can be seen as a far less rigid, narrow field, not necessarily Promethean or apocalyptic at all, and in fact less a mythological genre than a realistic one.


The problems of technology – and the problems of the storytelling about the computing industry today, which seems to regularly turn to the worst science fiction for inspiration – is bound up in all this. There’s a strong desire to create, crown, and laud the Hero – a tendency that’s going to end pretty badly if we don’t start thinking about care and community (and carrier bags) and dial back this wretched fascination with weapons, destruction, and disruption.

(Something like this, I wonder: “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” by Ursula K. Le Guin.)

Elsewhere in the history of the future of technology: “Sorry, Alexa Is Not a Feminist,” says Ian Bogost. “The People Who Would Survive Nuclear War” by Alexis Madrigal.

There are many reasons to adore Ursula K. Le Guin. And there are many pieces of her writing, of course, one could point to and insist “you must read this. You must.” For me, the attraction was her grounding in cultural anthropology – I met Le Guin at a California Folklore Society almost 20 years ago when I was a graduate student in Folklore Studies – alongside her willingness to challenge the racism and imperialism and expropriation that the field engendered. It was her fierce criticism of capitalism and her commitment to freedom. I’m willing to fight anyone who tries to insist that Sometimes a Great Notion is the great novel of the Pacific Northwest. Really, you should pick almost any Le Guin novel in its stead – Always Coming Home, perhaps. Or The Word for the World is Forest. She was the most important anarchist of our era, I posted on Facebook when I shared the NYT obituary. It was a jab at another Oregon writer who I bet thinks that’s him. But like Kesey, his notion is all wrong.

Fewer Heroes. Better stories about people. Better worlds for people.

Yours in struggle,
~Audrey"
audreywatters  ursulaleguin  2018  anarchism  sciencefiction  scifi  technology  edtech  progress  storytelling  care  community  caring  folklore  anarchy  computing  siliconvalley  war  aggression  humanism  briandear  myth  heroes  science  modernscience  hardsciences  economics  growth  fiction  tragedy  apocalypse  holocaust  future  conquest  domination  weapons  destruction  disruption 
january 2018 by robertogreco
The Art of Being Human - Welcome Video - YouTube
"Welcome to ANTH101.com!
The Science of Human Beings
The Art of Being Human
An Open Online Course in Anthropology

ANTH 101 Episode 001."



"Who am I?
What am I going to do?
Am I going to make it?

Who are we?
What are we going to do?
Are we going to make it?"

[See also:

ANTH 101
http://anth101.com/
http://anth101.com/book
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLbYkdovMggXFjAlY_6hMqYfX4Ud07VAHC
https://snapchat.com/add/anth.101/
https://www.instagram.com/anth.101/

The Sleeper
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZedcQoY0iw

The Wisdom of Heroes
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-3FgYn_4uQ

The 3 Big Questions of Life
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a4YaSR1mM3o

"Not Yet" Grading (2015)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7FQ4ps8n6A

What Baby George Taught Me About Learning (TEDxMHK)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SP7dbl0rJS0

What Baby George and Handstands Have Taught Me About Learning
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbRFAq9XEV0 ]
education  teaching  pedagogy  learning  michaelwesch  2017  anthropology  howweteach  change  heroesjourney  heroes  humans  howwelearn  deschooling  unschooling  highered  highereducation 
september 2017 by robertogreco
Nick Offerman of ‘Parks and Rec’ talks about documentary ‘Look and See’ - TODAY.com
"Best known as red meat lover Ron Swanson on “Parks and Recreation,” comic actor Nick Offerman visits TODAY to talk about a serious topic: “Look & See,” a new documentary about environmental activist Wendell Berry. He also wryly recounts being booed after throwing out a first pitch at Wrigley Field: “I did bounce it,” he admits."
wendellberry  nickofferman  heroes  2017  agriculture  farming  care  caring  affection  relationships  community  love  classideas 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Female heroes are even more important for boys than girls - Quartz
"But the sad fact is engaging with female characters has long been optional for boys, who are specifically discouraged—by society at large if not by their own parents—from seeking out material designed “for girls.” And the female characters they do see in mainstream entertainment are more likely to be sidekicks and love interests (not to mention outnumbered by male characters three to one). Arwen stuck out to me because she shared my gender. And yet in a series full of hobbits, wizards, and warriors, I doubt she made much of an impression on those not specifically looking to see themselves represented onscreen.

And that’s what’s so cool about Rey, Katniss, and Supergirl: It’s impossible to ignore them. They are female protagonists in properties that boys are encouraged—expected, even—to watch. For the first time young boys are being asked to empathize with female leads the way girls have long been expected to empathize with male ones. After all, I may have loved Hermione, but I spent 3,000 plus pages inside Harry’s head.

And studies have shown that media has a concrete impact on how we relate to people who are different than us. As author Junot Díaz puts it, women have “spent their whole life being taught that men have a subjectivity.” Now we’re finally teaching boys a similar lesson by introducing them to female leads who are strong, smart, flawed, emotionally complex, and able to fight their own battles.

In other words, we’re raising a generation of boys who think that watching a show about a female superhero is no big deal. And that is a pretty deal in itself."
gender  fiction  boys  2016  heroes  empathy  junotdíaz  subjectivity 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Self-Denial | Submitted For Your Perusal
“A character who needs the accoutrements of worldly success will never be seen by the audience as heroic. Heroes are invariably ascetic, denying themselves pleasures and comforts that ordinary people take for granted.… In war films, the hero often declines invitations to partake of food or sex…. The hero can’t relax, can’t have fun. In westerns … all he owns in this world is in that tiny bundle behind the saddle we see when he first appears. We don’t know if he ever changes his shirt or if he even has a shirt to change into, so minimal are his earthly possessions. In detective, police, mystery, and spy films, the central character usually lives in a one-room apartment … but it’s hard to say the hero lives there – it’s where he flops when he’s overcome with exhaustion.… Like religious and mythical heroes of earlier years, the hero is in this world, but not of it. He denies himself the pleasures ordinary mortals yearn for precisely because he isn’t an ordinary mortal.” —Howard Suber, The Power of Film

[via "@ecourtem @savasavasava I bet there are some, but heroism in film often associated with austerity: http://submittedforyourperusal.com/2012/05/29/self-denial/ "
https://twitter.com/mattthomas/status/593125731879755776

part of this thread: “From the trailer, James Bond’s ascetic apartment (at least, I’m guessing that’s what it is) in SPECTRE (2015).”
https://twitter.com/mattthomas/status/593122899244011520

which also includes: “Cf. the lighting, austerity, and accoutrements of Steve Jobs’s apartment circa the early 1980s.”
https://twitter.com/mattthomas/status/593123128215232512

"@mattthomas @savasavasava Just once I'd like to see a superhero emerge out of cluttered and low-class surroundings."
https://twitter.com/ecourtem/status/593125140080234497

"@mattthomas @ecourtem serves to further that whole hero myth while ignoring the privilege of opting for austerity. kinda tired of it."
https://twitter.com/savasavasava/status/593126308286173185

"@savasavasava @ecourtem Cf. the Buddha."
https://twitter.com/mattthomas/status/593126469582397441 ]
simplicity  howardsuber  clutter  film  heroes  asceticism  possessions  buddha  minimalism  2012  2015 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Kill Your Martyrs – The New Inquiry
"However well intentioned, the urge to treat Matthew Shepard as a blameless angel demonstrates so many of the pathologies in contemporary social liberalism. First is the left’s attraction to heroes and martyrs — a drive to personalize and individualize every issue, in a way that seems to directly cut against the theoretical commitment to identifying structural causes for social problems. After all, it is the right wing that prefers to reduce complex social issues to problems of personal character and claim economic outcomes are entirely the result of individual work ethic and talent. Advancing individuals as the symbols of a political causes invites attempts to discredit the causes by discrediting the inevitably flawed martyrs pressed into service to emblemize them. Yes, the personal is political. But the person is not the politics.

Neither are the activist groups entirely synonymous with their causes. Despite recent declarations of victory thanks to the advance of same-sex marriage, queer people in America continue to suffer from vast and entrenched discrimination in a variety of arenas. The gay rights movement remains essential and in need of protection against reactionary power. But no activist group is the movement. Like all institutions, they inevitably become more devoted to their self-perpetuation and to the needs of those working within them than to the cause with which they are identified. The Matthew Shepard Foundation, started by his parents, is an example. It has repeatedly worked to delegitimize not just Jimenez’s work but the very legitimacy of questioning the facts surrounding Shepard’s death.

But what, exactly, do Jimenez’s critics fear? What if every bad rumor about Matthew Shepard were true? For years, I have argued against the “race realist” arguments about race and IQ, the notion that our broad racial categories are significantly different in intelligence. But I have also argued against the notion that we just shouldn’t investigate the question — that some types of investigation should be taboo. This argument, voiced by writers like John Horgan and others, seems an enormous tactical and rhetorical mistake. What are they scared might be found? Regardless of any studies, I have no fear that we will somehow “discover” the inherent inferiority of any particular racial group. I have no fear that social science will result in our rejecting the equal dignity, value, and rights of people of color.

bloodpsortTNI Vol. 24: Bloodsport is out now. Subscribe for $2 and get it todayIf empirical tests suggest that our social construct of race align with differences in our social construct of intelligence, it invites consideration of how those constructs have been assumed or theorized, how those tests have been designed, and how structural aspects of our economy and our society have created conditions that make such perceived differences possible. No test results could undermine our pre-empirical commitment to the social and political equality of all races. Likewise, no journalistic revelations will change the fact that Matthew Shepard was strapped to a post, has his brain bludgeoned, and was left to die in the snow by killers who worked consciously and with premeditation. The right to live is not deserved. The right to not be killed does not stem from the perceived social legitimacy of one’s sexual or gender identity. McKinney and Henderson took Matthew Shepard out with the intention of killing him, and they did. That fact alone is reason for grief, disgust, and horror.

What, ultimately, is true about what happened in Laramie? I don’t know, and neither does Stephen Jimenez, and neither do his vitriolic critics. But I feel confident in the following: Someone who was innocent of anything immoral, as opposed to illegal, was intentionally and brutally murdered. His murderers were possessed, at the time, of some degree of homophobia, whether those feelings included the self-hatred of McKinney or not. The victim was forced to live in an unrepentantly homophobic country, one which refuses to meaningfully address the physical vulnerability of its unjustly targeted gay population and which was thus tacitly implicated in his murder. He died for no reason, and his killers deserve to spend the rest of their lives in jail. All that is true.

But the notion that this killing was a simple story of strangers meeting a defenseless gay man, being panicked by his homosexuality, and executing him in a fit of hatred, is no longer a responsible or informed position.

If Jimenez’s Matthew Shepard — involved in the drug trade, intimately acquainted with his killers, despairing — is the real Matthew Shepard, we face the same moral questions that we do when we consider Shepard the secular saint. Even if his death was not a black-and-white morality play which spoke perfectly to the assumptions of those who mourn him, and he not a media-ready victim but a complex and flawed human being, would he then lie outside of the boundaries of our compassion and our responsibility? And if he did, where is left for a movement seeking human justice to go?"
politics  personalization  individualization  matthewshepard  freddiedeboer  2014  news  truth  complexity  purity  humans  left  socialliberalism  heroes  martyrs  martyrdom  reification  hagiography  stephenjimenez  rigobertamenchú  simplification  simplicity  messaging  whitewashing  josephbrennan  credulity  bias  jennifertoth  themolepeople  journalism  storytelling  fiction  nonfiction  thebookofmatt  canon  radicalism 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Random thoughts on Charlie Hebdo | Snakes and Ladders
"1) I don’t think the most important question about what happened is “Do we support Charlie Hebdo?” I think the most important question is, “Do we support, and are we willing to fight for, a society in which people who make things like Charlie Hebdo can work in peace and sleep in their beds each night without fear?”

2) Freddie deBoer wrote,
Peter Beinart and Ross Douthat and Jon Chait and hundreds more will take the time in the week to come to beat their chests and declare themselves firmly committed to brave ideas like “murder is bad” and “free speech is good.” None of them, if pressed, would pretend that we are at risk of abandoning our commitment against murder or in favor of free speech. None of them think that, in response to this attack, we or France or any other industrialized nation is going to pass a bill declaring criticism of Islam illegal.


That last sentence is true enough, as far as it goes. But it doesn’t go nearly far enough. The measure of freedom of speech in a society is not simply a matter of what laws are or are not passed. We must also ask which existing laws are or are not enforced; and what self-censorship people perform out of fear that their societies will not or cannot protect them. Freddie writes as though freedom of speech can be adequately evaluated only by reference to the situation de jure; but there are de facto issues that must also be considered.

3) One of the more interesting comments on this whole affair is that of Giles Fraser:
In one sense an iconoclast is someone who refuses the established view of things, who kicks out against cherished beliefs and institutions. Which sounds pretty much like Charlie Hebdo. But the word iconoclast also describes those religious people who refuse and smash representational images, especially of the divine. The second of the Ten Commandments prohibits graven images – which is why there are no pictures of God in Judaism or Islam. And theologically speaking, the reason they are deeply suspicious of divine representation is because they fear that such representations of God might get confused for the real thing. The danger, they believe, is that we might end up overinvesting in a bad copy, something that looks a lot like what we might think of as god, but which, in reality, is just a human projection. So much better then to smash all representations of the divine.

And yet this, of course, is exactly what Charlie Hebdo was doing. In the bluntest, rudest, most scatological and offensive of terms, Charlie Hebdo has been insisting that the images people worship are just human creations – bad and dangerous human creations. And in taking the piss out of such images, they actually exist in a tradition of religious iconoclasts going back as far as Abraham taking a hammer to his father’s statues. Both are attacks on representations of the divine. Which is why the terrorists, as well as being murderers, are theologically mistaken in thinking Charlie Hebdo is the enemy. For if God is fundamentally unrepresentable, then any representation of God is necessarily less than God and thus deserves to be fully and fearlessly attacked. And what better way of doing this than through satire, like scribbling a little moustache on a grand statue of God.


I would love to agree with this, but can’t quite. All iconoclasm is not alike. Reading Fraser’s essay I found myself remembering Mikhail Bakhtin’s great essay “From the Prehistory of Novelistic Discourse,” in which he compares ancient and medieval parody with its modern equivalent.
Ancient parody was free of any nihilistic denial. It was not, after all, the heroes who were parodied, nor the Trojan War and its participants; what was parodied was only its epic heroization; not Hercules and his exploits but their tragic heroization. The genre itself, the style, the language are all put in cheerfully irreverent quotation marks, and they are perceived against a backdrop of contradictory reality that cannot be confined within their narrow frames. The direct and serious word was revealed, in all its limitations and insufficiency, only after it had become the laughing image of that word — but it was by no means discredited in the process.


By contrast, “in modem times the functions of parody are narrow and unproductive. Parody has grown sickly, its place in modem literature is insignificant. We live, write and speak today in a world of free and democratized language: the complex and multi-leveled hierarchy of discourses, forms, images, styles that used to permeate the entire system of official language and linguistic consciousness was swept away by the linguistic revolution of the Renaissance.” Parody for us is too often merely iconoclastic, breaking images out of juvenile delight in breaking, not out of commitment to a reality too heteroglot (Bakhtin’s term) to fit within the confines of standardized religious practices. I think Charlie Hebdo is juvenile in this way.

But feel free agree with that judgment or not — it’s not germane. As I said, the truly vital question here is not whether the magazine’s satire is worthwhile. The truly vital question is how badly — if at all — we want to live in a society where people who make such magazines can live without fear of losing their lives."
alanjacobs  charliehebdo  2015  satire  politics  gilesfraser  mikhailbakhtin  heroes  heroization  heteroglots  parody  society  freddiedeboer  freedom  #JeSuisCharlieHebdo  france  freespeech  freedomofspeech  islam  gravenimages  middleages  medieval  renaissance  power  language  linguistics  religion  #JeSuisCharlie 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Rev Dan Catt: Heros
"Each one is trying (I believe) to normalise a way of doing something that's currently outside of the mainstream, until hopefully it becomes the new normal. The things they are doing are things that I believe should and need to exist. I'll also get back to that in a moment.

So where's my interest?

Well, we homeschool (UK) here, Modesty (12), Zachary (8) and Isobel (6) for various reasons, but one of them is this: In the last 10 years the internet and the world because of it has changed so much but the school system hasn't really kept up."



"We're practicing Autonomous (or "child led learning") learning, which in theory is letting your children loose to learn whatever they feel like learning while you support them. Our reality is that it's a bit more like one of those toy pull back wind-up car. You pull them back filling them with energy, point them roughly in the direction you think they aught to be heading and release.

In this case Modesty was playing World of Warcraft as was just at the right age to watch The Guild, which led onto watching Felicia's own videos, I can still remember the cry of delight and "Felicia plays Skyrim too, her favorite bow is the same as mine!", which indirectly led to her cooking Skyrim Sweet Rolls after watching Rosanna Pansino make some on Nerdy Nummies. Really getting into board games, watching Amy Dallen talk about comics, Nika Harper talk about writing and video games and then later making cool weaponry from games.

In turn that leads to thoughts such as "Hey, I could be a blacksmith or weaponsmith, or a leather armorer. Time to hit up the library and YouTube". Which is pretty much not what happens at school. Also the (I think) fairly obvious decision to present the content not as "Women in games/comics/magic/technology", but just normalised as cool people talking about cool stuff is just lovely.

Which brings me back to the behind the camera stuff. Richard with his podcasts, plays and theater performances. Sinking a whole bunch of money into trying to make things work outside of the normal TV/Radio/Theater commisioning process, working towards another way of doing things, because that other way of doing things should be just as valid and possible as the "normal".

Leila, here and here making a magazine, podcasts, conferences and more because they are things that aught to exist. They are things that aught to be able to exist, to be funded, paid for, consumed as though they weren't alternatives to the mainstream but just a different part of the mainstream.

Felicia making full-on half hour (US TV "half-hour") TV programs but on YouTube, as thought that's just how it should be. And I've seen the promise of "TV on the internet" for very long time, and each time I watch someone attempt it I'm like "go on, this time, please let this be the one that finally survives and makes it work"

Because...

Because... I'm betting on "Home Schooling" or rather outside of the mainstream education system as a valid route for our children, and when they "leave" I need things like Richard's independent radio/podcast programs to have worked, Felicia's new company that she's spent so much time on getting set up to succeed, Leila to not burn through all her savings and make her way of publishing a magazine and so on, a perfectly acceptable and doable thing to do.

So that when our children are ready for the "world of work" that world is an interesting place and there are people in it I can point to as an example of how things can be done.

In short, I need heros."
revdancatt  2014  heros  feliciaday  leilajohnston  richardherring  cv  homeschool  unschooling  change  future  heroes  hopes  dreams  learning  howwelearn  parenting  television  youtube  creativity  games  gaming  publishing  education  schools  schooling  schooliness  funding  kickstarter  internet  online  markets  alternative  mainstream  pioneers  passion 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Vicious - Other People's Stories
"I, however, don't believe in or am all that interested in admirable heroes.*"



"You can't get through life without being wounded in some way- probably in multiple ways. I'm not interested in putting people into little boxes labeled "good" or "bad". As much as possible, I want to be an instrument of healing in the lives of those I touch. Which starts, usually, with being curious about their story."



"(*"The truth is that the heroism of your childhood entertainments was not true valor. It was theatre. The grand gesture, the moment of choice, the mortal danger, the external foe, the climactic battle whose outcome resolves all– all designed to appear heroic, to excite and gratify an audience. Gentlemen, welcome to the world of reality– there is no audience. No one to applaud, to admire. No one to see you. Do you understand? Here is the truth– actual heroism receives no ovation, entertains no one. No one queues up to see it. No one is interested." -David Foster Wallace

DFW just, you know, doing that thing he did- stating the absolute truth.)"
heroes  everyday  stories  2013  via:lukeneff  davidfosterwallace 
november 2013 by robertogreco
"Why the World Needs Heroes" by Dr. Philip Zimbardo [.pdf]
"Can thoughts ignite revolutions? How can one person’s imagination
empower millions to challenge tyranny and injustice in the name of
freedom and democracy?"

[See also: The Heroic Imagination Project (HIP) http://www.HeroicImagination.org ]

[Related: "I Am Fishead" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUbjaI3X5Qk ]
resistance  bullying  bullies  gandhi  heroicimagination  liberation  mlk  martinlutherkingjr  danielellsberg  irenasendler  courage  behavior  heroes  heroism  nelsonmandela  vaclavhavel  philipzimbardo  psychology  democracy  freedom  via:joguldi 
august 2012 by robertogreco
Quote by John Green: The real heroes anyway aren't the people doing ...
“The real heroes anyway aren't the people doing things; the real heroes are the people NOTICING things, paying attention.”
quotes  attention  heroes  doing  noticing  thefaultinourstars  johngreen  2012 
july 2012 by robertogreco
Amateur Architecture Studio - Hangzhou - Architects | chinese-architects.com
"I design a house instead of a building. The house is the amateur architecture approach to the infinitely spontaneous order.

Built spontaneously, illegally and temporarily, amateur architecture is equal to professional architecture. But amateur architecture is just not significant.

One problem of professional architecture is, that it thinks too much of a building. A house, which is close to our simple and trivial life, is more fundamental than architecture. Before becoming an architect, I was only a literati. Architecture is part time work to me. For one place, humanity is more important than architecture while simple handicraft is more important than technology.

The attitude of amateur architecture, - though first of all being an attitude towards a critical experimental building process -, can have more entire and fundamental meaning than professional architecture. For me, any building activity without comprehensive thoughtfulness will be insignificant."
purpose  slow  simple  meaning  spontaneous  spontaneity  infromal  anarchism  heroes  thoughtfulness  building  handicraft  amateur  values  tradition  craft  humanity  cv  architecture  design  luwenyu  wangshu  china  hangzhou  amateurarchitecturestudio  craftsmanship 
february 2012 by robertogreco
Chinese Architect Wang Shu Wins The Pritzker Prize : NPR
"For the first time, the Pritzker Architecture Prize has been awarded to an architect based in China. Wang Shu, 49, is interested in preservation, working slowly and tradition — ideals that sometimes seem forgotten in today's booming China. Wang says in the 1990s he had to get away from China's architectural "system" of demolition, megastructures and get-rich-quick — so he spent the decade working with common craftspeople building simple constructions.

"I go out of system," Wang says, "Because, finally I think, this system is too strong."



"Handicraft is important, and Wang says he doesn't like "professionalized soulless architecture as practiced today." He says he works more like a traditional Chinese painter. When he accepts a commission, he studies the city, the valley and the mountains. Then he goes home and thinks about it for about a week, without drawing. He says he drinks tea every day to stay calm, so his architecture doesn't become too strong and overwhelm the landscape."
informal  purpose  values  luwenyu  hangzhou  meaning  tradition  reuse  materials  simplicity  slow  cv  heroes  china  amateurarchitecturestudio  amateur  handicraft  craft  preservation  design  architecture  2012  pritzker  wangshu  craftsmanship 
february 2012 by robertogreco
Furor en Twitter por historia de Ripetti, el policía semidesnudo
"El ex Carabinero fue removido de su cargo por negarse a cumplir una orden superior. Su caso es uno de los temas más comentados del día." [With video]

[How did I miss this a couple weeks ago?]

[Same video also here: http://www.24horas.cl/videos.aspx?id=127817&tipo=27 and here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hiFCe1xlFjA ]
chile  carabineros  police  lawenforcement  absurdity  2011  ripetti  rights  law  abuseofpower  heroes  arturoripettipeña 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Working With Your Heroes: Welcome Keita Takahashi | Glitch Blog
"Everybody has heroes. Some are fortunate enough to have a chance to meet their heroes face-to-face. And some have the exceptional fortune to work directly with one of their heroes on a shared goal. And … that’s us!…

A few months ago we were lucky enough to start talking to him [Keita Takahashi]. We played some Glitch together, batted ideas back and forth and found that we shared the same values — deep beliefs in curiosity, humor, absurdity, and above all a belief in the positive power of play.

It was like talking to an old friend and it did not take long before we decided that we had to work together. So, a little over a week ago Keita and his family packed up and moved from Tokyo to join the team at Tiny Speck in Vancouver.

Even though we’re starting to get used to the idea, it’s still a huge thrill and a significant honor to be able to say: we get to work with Keita Takahashi! Glitch’s awesomeness will continue to increase."
keitatakahashi  glitch  tinyspeck  2011  heroes 
july 2011 by robertogreco
The half-life of disaster: The world's media-driven nerves quickly move from shock to vague foreboding and 'disaster capitalism' surges on | Brian Massumi | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk
"These quasi-monopolistic movements are tolerated, or even encouraged, in the name of securing the economy's future stability…significantly the case in energy sector, with policies friendly to centralised production & quasi-monopolistic ownership designed, for example, to revive nuclear power industry or to kick-start capital-intensive pseudo-green "alternatives" like biofuels & mythical "clean" coal – precisely kinds of choices that will render the global situation even more precarious in long run…As long as disaster capitalism reigns – which no doubt will be as long as capitalism itself reigns – world will be caught in vicious circle: that of responding by increasingly draconian & ill-advised means to threat environment whose dangers response only contributes to intensifying.

The only way out is to militate for an alternate interlinkage: between global anticapitalist political contestation & a renascent environmental movement with opposition to nuclear power at its heart."
brianmassumi  disasters  nuclear  energy  capitalism  disastercapitalism  power  money  influence  greed  2011  japan  tsunamis  fukushima  naturaldisasters  threatenvironment  environment  sustainability  change  terrorism  collectiveresponse  scale  heroes  systems  systemsthinking  via:javierarbona 
april 2011 by robertogreco
The Good Show - Radiolab
"In this episode, a question that haunted Charles Darwin: if natural selection boils down to survival of the fittest, how do you explain why one creature might stick its neck out for another?

The standard view of evolution is that living things are shaped by cold-hearted competition. And there is no doubt that today's plants and animals carry the genetic legacy of ancestors who fought fiercely to survive and reproduce. But in this hour, we wonder whether there might also be a logic behind sharing, niceness, kindness ... or even, self-sacrifice. Is altruism an aberration, or just an elaborate guise for sneaky self-interest? Do we really live in a selfish, dog-eat-dog world? Or has evolution carved out a hidden code that rewards genuine cooperation?"

[Related: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/11/books/review/deWaal-t.html?pagewanted=all ]

[Update: in case the URL breaks, try this: http://www.radiolab.org/story/103951-the-good-show/ ]
radiolab  good  altruism  genetics  instinct  generosity  evolution  georgeprice  heroism  heroes  gametheory  math  selfishness  self-preservation  human  cooperation  niceness  kindness  survival  reproduction  darwin  charlesdarwin 
december 2010 by robertogreco
Jonathan Harris . Clouds and coins [Read the whole thing.]
"[I]t was the best class I ever had anywhere at any age. It was basically a grab bag of things that people should know, but things that people often never end up learning… The class was a crash course in things that are usually picked up slowly and by accident, like lost coins, over the course of your life. This class was so memorable because it was so little like school, and so much like life. School is basically a way of keeping people occupied — a theatrical set piece designed to take up time and spit out consenting consumers.

Any adult knows that what he really knows he did not learn in school. The gradual accumulation of experience is really how we learn. But unlike school, life is unpredictable, so it would be dangerous to leave the teaching of life to life. Just think how much would get left out of the curriculum, and how hard it would be to standardize tests!"
jonathanharris  education  learning  life  wisdom  unschooling  topost  toshare  tcsnmy  videogames  metaphor  standardizedtesting  schools  schooling  teaching  parenting  east  west  westernworld  easternworld  passivity  accepance  understanding  experience  experientiallearning  emptiness  heroes  identity  knowledge  mortality  replacability  children  making  seeing  building  unpredictability  curriculum  lcproject 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Lost and Heroes: In Defense of Arrogance - Tuned In - TIME.com
"its original sin was in trying to objection-proof itself, & thereby setting a ceiling on how great it could ever be. Heroes was its own thing, but by starting from position of satisfying fans better & quicker than its serial competition, it started from a position of timidity.
storytelling  risk  possibility  tcsnmy  tv  heroes  lost  quality  timidity  risktaking  success  failure  television 
may 2010 by robertogreco
Save the Day | This American Life
"Act One. Midlife Cowboy: James Spring had hit his late 30s, and found his life utterly unremarkable. He needed to do something big. So James decided to try to rescue two kids who had been kidnapped by suspected murderers, and taken to Mexico. (29 1/2 minutes)"
sandiego  bajacalifornia  mexico  thisamericanlife  heroes  heroism  storytelling 
march 2010 by robertogreco
Rebel Alliance: How a small band of sci-fi geeks is leading Hollywood into a new era. [Fast Company]
"Why them? Because their inherently dweeby shows are the most extensible brands in the industry, playing out seamlessly across platforms from TV to video games, Web sites to comics."
marketing  multimedia  heroes  tv  television  scifi  sciencefiction  media  change  lost  comics  videogames  gaming  games  play  gamechanging  transmedia  crossmedia  storytelling  brands 
june 2008 by robertogreco
Mythography | Exploring Greek, Roman, and Celtic Mythology and Art
"Explore mythology and art with information about the classic stories of heroes and gods...from the myths of ancient Greece and Rome, to the legends of the Celts. Mythography also presents resources and reference materials about mythology - including reco
mythology  greeks  greek  history  myth  myths  literature  reference  heroes  encyclopedia  classics  gods 
may 2008 by robertogreco
Greek Mythology
"This site is devoted to the heroes, gods and monsters of Greek mythology."
mythology  greeks  greek  history  myth  myths  literature  reference  heroes  encyclopedia  classics  gods 
may 2008 by robertogreco
Marginal Revolution: Heroes are not Replicable
"these stories...depress me. If it takes a hero to save an inner city school then there is no hope. Heroes are not replicable. What we need...is a method that works when the teachers aren't heroes. Even better if the method works when teachers are ordinar
education  heroes  leadership  management  organization  teaching  schools  instruction  directinstruction  policy  administration  money  economics  research 
september 2007 by robertogreco
Wonderland: Hollywood & Games: An Interview with Jesse Alexander
"Jesse Alexander is the Exec Producer of Alias, Lost and Heroes, and had a lot to say particularly about the crossover between television and videogames, which can be summed up in his last comment here to a questioner: "I believe television and videogames
lost  heroes  tv  interviews  gamedesign  games  videogames  media  play  television  storytelling  convergence 
june 2007 by robertogreco
Dick Cheney's least favorite TV show? | Salon.com
"Why the worldview of "Heroes" clashes with the vice president's "1 percent doctrine" on terrorism."
heroes  tv  television  scifi  politics  us  torture  terrorism 
june 2007 by robertogreco
fabric of folly - a weblog by Dan Taylor
"Last year Dan Hill wrote an extremely erudite post on why Lost is genuinely new media. One year on and multiplatform media has a new poster child in the form of Heroes which has taken Lost's exploitation of interactive platforms (and the web in particula
heroes  media  tv  television 
april 2007 by robertogreco
Kunsthaus - "The Real Story of the Superheroes" - DULCE PINZÓN
"The principal objective of this series is to pay homage to these brave and determined men and women that somehow manage, without the help of any supernatural power, to withstand extreme conditions of labor in order to help their families and communities
activism  immigration  labor  mexico  politics  photography  comics  art  superheroes  heroes  culture  world  latinamerica  nyc 
january 2007 by robertogreco
Beaming Beeman
"Blog for Greg Beeman, Director/Producer of the NBC television show "Heroes"."
blogs  tv  television  heroes  superheroes  comics  genetics 
november 2006 by robertogreco

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