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Between Two Languages: An Interview with Yoko Tawada
"Among the finest of Tawada’s works are short stories about adapting to new cultures, both physically and linguistically. The daughter of a nonfiction translator and academic bookseller, Tawada learned to read in over five languages; she speaks English, but doesn’t write it. “I feel in between two languages, and that’s big enough,” she told me. Her stories often turn on feeling outside the culture, as an immigrant, as a citizen witnessing great national change, or even as a tourist."



"I look like a person who cannot think when I wake up, because I’m still quite between the sleep and the dream and the waking, and that’s the best time for business."



"Being multilingual is tricky. I feel more as though I am between two languages, and that feels like enough. To study that in-between space has given me so much poetry. I don’t feel like one of those international people who juggles many tongues."
yokotawada  language  languages  bilingualism  2018  interviews  japan  japanese  howwewrite  dreams  sleep  liminality  betweenness  littoralzone  liminalspaces  multilingualism  dualism  srg 
11 weeks ago by robertogreco
The Great Africanstein Novel | by Namwali Serpell | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books
"The title of Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi’s magisterial first novel, Kintu—first published in Kenya in 2014, then in the US this year by the Oakland-based press Transit Books—is a Luganda word. Luganda is a Bantu language spoken in Uganda; Bantu is a proto-language that just means people; there are languages derived from it all across the African continent. In Zambia, where I’m from, we spell this word chinthu. In both countries, it is pronounced chin-two and it means “thing.” In ancient Buganda mythology, however, Kintu is also the name of the first man, the equivalent to the Judeo-Christian Adam. The implications of this titular oxymoron—a word that means both “thing” and “man”—begin to unfold in the opening pages of Makumbi’s book.

There’s a knock at the door. A woman opens it to four local officials, who rouse her man, Kamu, from sleep and lead him outside for questioning. He assumes they’re there on behalf of a creditor but when they reach a marketplace, they bind his hands. Kamu protests: “Why are you tying me like a thief?” A mob swirls into being like a weather formation, the word thief flying “from here to there, first as a question then as a fact.” Kicks and blows begin to rain down on him, from both the elderly and the young. Arrivals to the scene ask, “‘Is it a thief?’ because Kamu had ceased to be human.” He tries to hold on to his humanity: “Kamu decided he was dreaming. He was Kamu Kintu, human. It was them, bantu. Humans. He would wake up any minute.” He does not.

The account of Kamu’s abrupt, arbitrary death on Monday, January 5, 2004, and the subsequent fate of his corpse in the bureaucratic torpor of Kampala’s morgue, recurs in short fragments at the start of each of the novel’s five sections, which tell the stories of other members of the scattered Kintu clan. First, we jump back three centuries to its first generation, headed by Kintu Kidda, a ppookino, or governor, of the Buddu province in the eighteenth-century Buganda Kingdom. In a moment of irritation, Kintu slaps his adopted son, a Rwandan, and the boy falls down dead. His men bury the body improperly: “the grave was narrow and shallow. They used a stick to measure Kalema’s length, but while the stick fit into the grave, Kalema did not. They crammed him in.” In their haste, the men do not even realize that they have buried the boy beside a burial shrub for dogs. The tragic repercussions of this desecration—“the curse was specific: mental illness, sudden death, and suicide”—ripple across the centuries through the lives of Kintu’s descendants.

Like Charles Dickens or Gabriel García Márquez, Makumbi ranges widely across time and social strata; her knowledge of Ugandan culture seems as precise as a historian’s. We meet Suubi Kintu, a young woman who grows up in a compound, perpetually on the brink of starvation, but is eventually integrated into a middle-class family. Kanani Kintu and his wife, Faisi, members of an evangelical group, the Awakened, bear a twin son and daughter with an uncomfortably close relationship. Isaac Newton Kintu, the product of rape and named for the last lesson his mother learned in school before she dropped out, gets trapped into marriage; when his wife dies, seemingly of AIDS, he anguishes over whether to learn his own HIV status. Miisi Kintu, a writer raised by colonial priests (the “white fathers”) and educated abroad, returns to a postcolonial Kampala still feeling the aftershocks of dictatorship and the bush war of the early Eighties, which killed some of his children. With its progression through generations and its cyclical returns to genetic inheritance—hay fever, twins, madness—Kintu’s structure feels epic.

Kintu continually diverts us from this straightforward path of a curse and its aftermath, however, as well as from our preconceptions about Africa. The polygamous eighteenth-century governor wants nothing more than to be with the woman he loves; the Awakened couple experience their enviably passionate sex life as a torment; the spiritual leader of a ritual cleansing is so “anglicized” that the assembled family members doubt his efficacy. Social class is defined neither by strict stratification nor by upward mobility, but by extreme volatility—economic fates rise and fall almost at random. Servant girls become educated women, sons of professors come to live in slums.

Makumbi’s depiction of local culture also bears little resemblance to standard notions of African “authenticity.” Her Uganda is an unabashed amalgam of Europe and Africa, in everything from cooking to spiritual possession to mental health to sexual mores. As Makumbi said in an interview:
We are both Europeanized and Ugandan. We speak both traditional languages and English. Someone goes to church, but then will go to the traditional healer. Someone is a scientist but will have an intense spiritual life. We have this saying in Uganda: “God help me, but I’m going to run as well.” We think two ways at once.

In the novel, Miisi conjures an image of African postcolonialism that captures this sensibility. He pictures the black torso of the continent but stripped of its limbs, which have been replaced with European ones. “We cannot go back to the operating table and ask for the African limbs,” he writes. “Africa must learn to walk on European legs and work with European arms. As time goes by, children will be born with evolved bodies.” Makumbi’s portmanteau for this Gothic image enacts the very grafting it describes: Africanstein.

Kintu cannot but be in some sense the story of a people, the Ganda, and a nation, Uganda. But its politics are personal. Idi Amin and the bush wars emerge in conversation, in acts of mourning. The ins and outs of the ancient Buganda Kingdom’s secessions and coups seem incidental to the personal tragedy of Kintu Kidda, his wives, and their children. Makumbi has said that she intentionally skipped the nation’s colonial history: “The almost complete lack of colonization was deliberate…. To me colonization was my grandfather’s quarrel.” So, without the usual lenses of class, culture, and colonialism—without “Queen and Country,” so to speak—how are we to read this “African” novel?"



"Oddly enough, despite all this generalizing and pigeonholing, African writers are rarely thought to speak to the universal—in the philosophical sense rather than the platitudinous one. But if, as Makumbi noted at an event in Brooklyn last June, the origin of the human species is probably East Africa, then why can’t Kampala be the center of a profoundly universal inquiry? As its two-faced title—man/thing—suggests, Kintu does in fact have a grand philosophical question in mind. The novel forces us to reckon over and again with what it means to be kintu, to be man, or human. This question plays out across certain boundaries: between men and women, between twins, between life and death, between “mankind” and “animalkind,” between good and evil, between human and supernatural worlds, between foreigners and family, and, of course, between humans and objects."



"Miisi completely loses his grip on reality and starts wearing a Western-style waistcoat and coat over his kanzu. In his dishevelment, he comes to resemble his ancestor with that strange thing/person name, Kintu. Miisi becomes a man “floating in two worlds.” Which two worlds? Boyhood and manhood, past and present, muntu and muzungu, Europe and Africa? “I know who I am,” Miisi tells his daughter, “We are not even Hamites. We are Bantu.” But she thinks, “He is now a different person.” In the end, he is riven by his divisions, “in the middle world between sanity and insanity.”

To survive being human, Kintu suggests, is to hold all these divisions together, gently, to “just be.” This argument about personhood is radical because it rejects a long philosophical tradition of considering “humanity” as a matter of self-containment and integrity, of what the human excludes. It is also radical because Makumbi centers this argument in Uganda. But what better place, with its arbitrarily sketched borders, its pliable myths and cultures, its originary status—cradle of the first human/thing—to stage an interrogation of personhood? As Makumbi has remarked in passing about living as an immigrant in the UK: “Out here you are Ugandan. At home you are just human.”"
jennifernansubugamakumbi  namwaliserpell  books  literature  kintu  kampala  ugnda  africaisnotacountry  2017  toread  universal  universalism  humans  humanism  objects  betweenness  seams  gender  supernatural  middleground  gray  grey  humanity  personhood  integrity  self-containment  borders  identity  myth  culture  sexuality  history  colonialism  postcolonialism  human  colonization  europe  decolonization  frankenstein  africanstein  africa  africans  twins  multispecies  morethanhuman  life  living  philosophy  divisions  interstitial  liminality  liminalspaces  liminalstates  between 
october 2017 by robertogreco
There's a translation joke for Korean-Americans in the subtitles of Okja.
"There are many excellent jokes in Okja, Bong Joon-ho’s genre-mashing movie about the titular GMO super-pig and its kid caretaker Mija, which is now streaming on Netflix. There are poop jokes; there are Tilda Swinton’s braces; there are references that run the high-low gamut, including a re-creation of the Obama war-room photo and Andrew Lincoln’s poster-board confessional from Love Actually. But there’s another joke buried in the subtitles, a little gem reserved for that special group of people who can speak both Korean and English.

The moment happens when the radical animal-rights group ALF (the Animal Liberation Front), headed by Jay (Paul Dano), ostensibly rescues Okja from the Mirando corporation. But what they’re really trying to do is use Okja as a mole to expose Mirando’s animal-rights abuses. To do this, they would have to hack into Okja’s monitoring system and allow the super-pig to be taken back to the lab. Jay won’t go through with the plan without Mija’s (Ahn Seo-hyun) consent, but the only way to communicate with her is through fellow ALF member K, a Korean-American character played by Steven Yeun. When they ask Mija what she wants to do, she says that all she wants is to go back to the mountains with Okja, but K lies and says that she agrees to the plan, much to the delight of his comrades.

[screenshot]

With that, each ALF member jumps out of the truck into the Han River below, with K the last to go. According to the subtitles, his parting words to Mija are “Mija! Try learning English. It opens new doors!” In an earlier version I watched, the subtitle read, “How’s my Korean?” What he actually says is “Mija! Also, my name is Koo Soon-bum.”

[screenshot]

It’s a flagrant mistranslation—but one that would only be apparent to those who can speak both languages. Moreover, the mistranslation is a clever subversion of the supremacy of English. The subtitle is a command to learn English—something that every Korean student has heard throughout her life—but to actually understand what K is saying, you would have to know Korean. There’s an added layer of comedy to the name itself, which has the whiff of the old country about it: “Koo Soon-bum” is sort of like a white man saying his name is “Buford Attaway.” As Yeun told me, “When he says ‘Koo Soon-bum,’ it’s funny to you if you’re Korean, because that’s a dumb name. There’s no way to translate that. That’s like, the comedy drop-off, the chasm between countries.”

Bong wrote the character of K specifically with Yeun in mind, because he’s a character that only a Korean-American could play. Yeun’s performance itself is a nod to that gap; it reads differently if you know Korean. While it’s obvious that he’s a bit of a dolt, if you have the ear for the language, his failures are more apparent, because he speaks with the stiltedness of a second-generation speaker (Yeun’s actual pronunciation is a lot better). He’s not quite sure of himself, and is trying to fit into both spaces, but can’t. (This is also why the other subtitle joke that I saw, “How’s my Korean?” works in a subtler way.) Yeun said the character “speaks to the island we live on”: He was a character written for Korean-Americans.

Throughout Okja, Bong plays with the idea of translation, both its necessities and inherent limitations, and the inevitable comedy that arises out of that space. When Jay learns that K deliberately lied, he starts to beat him up, telling him to “never mistranslate!” Toward the end of the movie, K pops back up with a fresh tattoo that reads, “Translations are sacred.”

[screenshot]

Part of what makes Okja so remarkable is that Bong Joon-ho has found ways to make jokes that track across both cultural spheres. Unlike the wave of male Korean directors who crossed over into Hollywood around the same time, Park Chan-wook on Stoker or Kim Jee-woon with The Last Stand, Bong never let go of his roots. He cast Korean actors Song Kang-ho and Ko Ah-sung and had them speaking Korean dialogue alongside Hollywood stars Chris Evans and Octavia Spencer in his dystopian train ride thriller Snowpiercer. He furthers the Korean-American dynamic in Okja, centering on a young Korean girl and pitting her against the forces of an American corporation headed by Tilda Swinton’s knobby-kneed CEO. Just as the dialogue shifts seamlessly between both languages, Bong easily trots around the world, from the Korean countryside dotted with persimmon trees to the underground shopping malls of Seoul to the streets of New York City.
“Director Bong is probably one of the few, if not the only, people I’ve seen so far, that’s been able to bridge the two together,” said Yeun. “I don’t mean being able to do an American movie—a lot of directors could probably do that—but bridging the two cultures together in a cohesive way. That’s a tall order, and somehow, he accomplishes that.”"
language  translation  korean  film  okja  bongjoon-ho  stevenyeun  subtlety  via:sophia  culture  thirdculturekids  liminalspaces  2017 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Second Sight - The New Yorker
"Movement in the margins is not enough. Regularity becomes invisible. You switch up the moves, you introduce irregularity, in order to maintain visibility."



"The neurons in the visual system adapt to the stimulus, and redirect their attention."



"Years later, I lost faith. One form of binocular vision gave way to another. The world was now a series of interleaved apparitions. The thing was an image that could also bear an image. If one of the advantages of irreligion was an acceptance of others, that benefit was strangely echoed in the visual plane, which granted the things seen within the photographic rectangle a radical equality. This in part was why signs, pictures, ads, and murals came to mean so much: they were neither more nor less than the “real” elements by which they were framed. They were not to be excluded, nor were the spaces between things. “We see the world”: this simple statement becomes (Merleau-Ponty has also noted this) a tangled tree of meanings. Which world? See how? We who? Once absolute faith is no longer possible, perception moves forward on a case-by-case basis. The very contingency and brevity of vision become the long-sought miracle."



"The stage is set. Things seem to be prepared in advance for cameos, and even the sun is rigged like the expert lighting of a technician. The boundary between things and props is now dissolved, and the images of things have become things themselves."



"The body has to adjust to the environment, to the challenges in the environment. The body isn’t wrong, isn’t “disabled.” The environment itself—gravity, air, solidity or the lack of it, et cetera—is what is somehow wrong: ill-matched to the body’s abilities, inimical to its verticality, stability, or mobility."



"I rest at a concrete outcrop with a bunting of vintners’ blue nets, a blue the same color as the lake. It is as though something long awaited has come to fruition. A gust of wind sweeps in from across the lake. The curtain shifts, and suddenly everything can be seen. The scales fall from our eyes. The landscape opens. No longer are we alone: they are with us now, have been all along, all our living and all our dead."
tejucole  2017  margins  edges  attention  regularity  everyday  irregularity  visibility  invisibility  acceptance  belief  vision  photography  borders  liminalspaces  perception  brevity  ephemerality  adjustment  adaptability  disability  stability  mobility  verticality  body  bodies  contingency  sign  pictures  ads  images  advertising  between  betweenness  stimuli  liminality  ephemeral  disabilities 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Dark Mountain: Issue 11 | The Dark Mountain Project
"But the lines separating these things remained – and remain – illusory. Such borders, powerful though they seem, are only one way of seeing the world; like so many human inventions, they are better understood not as facts, but stories."



"Once we break free from straight-line thinking, the truth is much more messy.

That messiness is, in part, what this book tries to articulate. Dark Mountain: Issue 11 takes as its premise the notion of endings – cultural, social, ecological, political, existential – but recognises that things seldom end, or begin, in well-mannered ways."
darkmountain  liminality  liminalspaces  seams  scars  edges  borders  2017  messiness  truth  linearity  endings  culture  society  ecology  politics 
april 2017 by robertogreco
State of Being: Envisioning California – Boom California
"What my relatives ascertained in real time and experience is where the actual story begins—the great uncle who vanished (dead or missing, we never learned); restrictive housing covenants that dictated where you could rent or buy; circumscribed dreams. This “paradise,” by all accounts, held up only in its external natural promise—the weather, the flora, the vistas. The rest? It could be worked around.

And it was. The California I most deeply reside in is the California of personal imprint—generations of it. It’s the stuff of absorbed histories—the weight and heft of personal adaptations, language, and traditions. You brought a little of your past with you—how to string beans or devein shrimp or how to make a roux; you brought a lullaby; you brought coming-of-age rituals. You compared and shared with your neighbors because you were creating a community. All was integrated into the rhythm and space of your new environs. You brought your pride and joy along with your cleverness or itch for adventure. You brought what was road-worthy, meaningful, something worth handing down.

That ability to “make do,” or improvise, applied in many ways. “Placemaking” is the work of the mind as well as the hands. Living in California has often meant that you have to become familiar with and conversant in both the mythic place and the real place, and know where they come together—that seam where the extrapolation and the real meet."



"Since the beginning, the real California has been obscured by perception, or as historian Kevin Starr observed, “at times, it seemed to be imprisoned in a myth of itself.”4 And when so many have come to west to find themselves—or their next self—how does a place struggle out of all of that need and expectation? “The myth that has symbolized America for the rest of the world has found its true expression here,” historian Gwendolyn Wright wrote in her introduction to the 1984 reprint of The WPA Guide to California, noting little had happened in fifty years to dim that perception, “A desire for dramatic change is at the heart of California’s appeal.”5

Place then, our sense of it, is what suffers in the blind or selfish making and remaking. We build it up and tear it down. Shoehorn expectations, and in the endeavor truth takes a beating and essence becomes much more difficult to summon.

The California cities that own part of my heart—San Francisco and Los Angeles—are anything but static. The Los Angeles and Bay Area that my relatives set their sights on is long gone. Sometimes though, I happen into ghosts of it—if on a drive home, heading north toward the San Gabriels on a clear day and I see the shoulder-to-shoulder rise of land that demarks the Angeles National Forest, or the socked-in coast and wild weed and pampas grass near the Pacific just as I move out built San Francisco. I can still lose my composure in the presence of the beauty that I know both I and my forebears bore witness to, together across the bend of time. But these vignettes of paradise are flashes. If we’re lucky, we glimpse them daily on a bike ride home, or while lifting groceries out of the car. They are reminders. I suppose that’s why I’m much more interested in the paradises that Californians create for themselves than boosters’ or Hollywood’s evocations of them; the neighborhoods naturally give themselves over and find humane ways to coexist.

When I speak of “paradise,” I’m not referencing elaborate McMansions built to the very edge of property lines or elaborate six-foot-high retaining walls that obscure your (and our) collective sense of place. I’m speaking of a vision of personal beauty seeking connection/interaction—maybe it’s a folk art garden full of old baby doll heads, or shards of blue glass sunk next to broken china as part of a front-yard mosaic. Maybe it’s painting your house turquoise or maybe it’s a flock of plastic pink flamingos? It might be the Virgen de Guadalupe painted on a Quik-Mart’s tamarind walls next to floating bottles of Tide and rolls of Ariel. Maybe it’s a make-shift fortune-telling kiosk in the driveway. What does peace, freedom of expression, a chance to breathe and reevaluate look like from decade-to-decade across generations?

It’s still about “space” to my mind. Not just measurable space—those miles demarcated in freeway exits—but the room to ask and play out that What If: Who might you be if you intersected with the place that might allow you to wander that question to its logical, meaningful end.

California, the best of it, is what lives and prospers in a liminal, unnamed space—somewhere between dreams, disappointments, and recalibration. It’s harder to recognize, perhaps, because it’s messy. It might look like defeat, or it might feel unfinished—or in still in motion."



"Even with all the buzz of gentrification that has restitched parts of North Beach, I was struck by how much of the feel—and stories—remained alive in the crevices of this place. This wasn’t Italy; it was California as seen through the prism of his Italian youth. He was extending the line—possibility—himself with it. The cafe has been a meeting room for generations of artists, muckrakers, eccentrics, and tourists; but mostly, its role has been to lend support and succor to neighborhood, struggling, and/or working-class folks like Giotta, who himself had arrived from Italy with his family penniless and at loose ends. From a singing window-washer to a business owner, this cafe had saved him—and so many others. In certain ways, it is a monument to all of that—a sanctuary.

The sorrow I was feeling had settled somewhere deep. I was sorry I would miss the memorial, the arias that would be sung in his memory, the old neighborhood stories that would soar. Shelley and I lingered longer than we’d intended. I wanted to pause to take a few snapshots—details—to remember this moment, but I was at a loss. Not a cup or saucer. Not the jukebox full of arias. But what? We stopped next door at Trieste’s adjacent storefront, their coffee-roasting business, and struck up a conversation with the man behind that counter. He directed our gaze toward the window, another poster of beloved Giovanni Giotta. The whole block, it seemed, was heavy in mourning. “There’s a big thing this weekend,” he told us, his body seemed limp with grief. Then he pushed two postcards—souvenirs—across the counter toward us: a blurred multiple exposure of the Caffe Trieste’s interior—the roar of activity visible and Papa Gianni, a ghost, there again before me.

The man at the counter looked up over his glasses and into middle space, and then pronounced: “That’s all we have left of poor Papa Gianni.”

I don’t want to believe him. I can’t. Because what’s circling around us—dusty and delicate but enduring—tells me something else: Papa Gianni is in these walls, in that jukebox. He’s part of the feeling of that old North Beach. Those guys standing on the street corner, keeping the story moving, aloft; the woman with the kind smile who remembers your coffee; they’ll be ghosts too, soon enough. But this old wooden monument of risk, big love, of life and acceptance is what we have left. How would I frame this shot? This feeling? Because it’s quintessentially California. I realize now why it was so difficult to capture: because California moves through you. It is vigor and spirit. If we do it right, we leave our mark on hearts and in stories and souls."
california  lynellgeorge  placemking  place  paradise  makedo  myth  reality  liminality  between  sanfrancisco  losangeles  2017  kevinstarr  dreams  change  unfinished  betweenness  liminalspaces 
march 2017 by robertogreco
Eyeo 2016 – Sarah Hendren on Vimeo
"Design for Know-Nothings, Dilettantes, and Melancholy Interlopers – Translators, impresarios, believers, and the heartbroken—this is a talk about design outside of authorship and ownership, IP or copyright, and even outside of research and collaboration. When and where do ideas come to life? What counts as design? Sara talks about some of her own "not a real designer" work, but mostly she talks about the creative work of others: in marine biology, architecture, politics, education. Lots of nerdy history, folks."
sarahendren  eyeo2016  2016  eyeo  dilettantes  interlopers  translation  ownership  copyright  collaboration  education  marinebiology  architecture  design  research  learning  howwelearn  authorship  socialengagement  criticaldesign  thehow  thewhy  traction  meaning  place  placefulness  interconnectedness  cause  purpose  jacquescousteau  invention  dabbling  amateurs  amateurism  exploration  thinking  filmmaking  toolmaking  conviviality  convivialtools  ivanillich  impresarios  titles  names  naming  language  edges  liminalspaces  outsiders  insiders  dabblers  janeaddams  technology  interdependence  community  hullhouse  generalists  radicalgeneralists  audrelorde  vaclavhavel  expertise  pointofview  disability  adaptability  caseygollan  caitrinlynch  ingenuity  hacks  alinceshepherd  inclinedplanes  dance  pedagogy  liminality  toolsforconviviality  disabilities  interconnected  interconnectivity 
august 2016 by robertogreco
The Nature of the “In-Between” in D.W. Winnicott’s Concept of Transitional Space and in Martin Buber’s das Zwischenmenschliche [.pdf]
"Despite its ability to provide refuge and renewal, however, Winnicott and Buber insist that this “in-between” world can never displace or supplant the inner and outer worlds. Whether in childhood or adulthood, we cannot stay in this realm of creative possibility and transformation forever, even if it is the most real and authentic part of our existence. Buber and Winnicott therefore refuse to become neo-romantic worshippers of feeling and subjectivity. They avoid such dualism, and discourage, in Buber’s terms, the rejection of the world of I-It, suggesting instead the interpenetration of the I-It realm by that of I-Thou.

Like the child, we must return always to the “exalted melancholy of our fate” in the I-It world: Yet Buber insists that even in this mundane sphere, we can claim a sense of meaning, for “these Thou’s which have been changed into It’s have it in their nature to change back again into presentness.”12

Winnicott’s transitional object, an illusion in itself, remains paradoxically for all persons “the basis of initiation of experience.” This intermediate area of experience, in which the transitional object shares, is retained throughout life, “in the intense experiencing that belongs to the arts and to religion and to imaginative living, and to creative scientific work.”13 Winnicott’s “in-between” world does not possess the vacillating It/Thou qualities to the same degree that Buber’s does, and remains a more stable and enduring concept, available to draw upon for the rest of our lives."



"Buber cites the category of “the essential We” to correspond on the community level to the “essential Thou on the level of self being.” Similarly, he posits a primitive We on the group level, analogous to that of the primitive Thou on the individual level: “the primitive We precedes true individuality and independence, whereas the essential We only comes about when independent people have come together in essential relation and directness.”27 Through this essential We, humans can transcend the impersonality of mass culture. As Buber writes in Between Man and Man, one “is truly saved from the ‘one’ not by separation but only by being bound up in genuine communion.”28

Buber calls for restructuring of society “into a community of communities,” which would strive to transform mass society into the essential We of Gemeinschaft. True community, however, can only occur if people take personal responsibility, and can sacrifice for the group. Buber’s social philosophy is far from utopian, realizing how difficult it is in an age of impersonal mass society to redirect human nature towards responsibility for the integrity of the total community. He embraces no one political ideology, but points to varied communities where non-exploitative relations predominate.

Although Winnicott does not speak in similar detail about the dynamics of culture, he does view cultural forms as inherently more enabling and creative. Due to his social location in Great Britain, Winnicott also seems more pragmatic and positive towards both monarchy and large-scale democratic government. In his essay, “Some Thoughts on the Meaning of Democracy,” Winnicott considers democracy a more mature form of culture, for instance, in its respect of privacy through the secret ballot.29 The main threat to democracy, however, Winnicott writes, is that its people may not be mature enough to maintain and nurture it. In this case, totalitarian systems can threaten a people through their appeal to demonic certainty, stirring in some individuals a desire to persecute others.

Winnicott finds that such a desire to persecute, or wish to be persecuted, results from a failure of successful transitional objects, often as a result of early impingement by others. In adult group life, this developmental deficit can lead one particular group to force its illusions upon another. Illusion, “which in adult life is inherent in art and religion,” notes Winnicott, “becomes the hallmark of madness when an adult puts too powerful a claim on the credulity of others, forcing them to acknowledge a sharing of illusion that is not their own.”30 Winnicott’s insight here may offer some rationale for emergence of National Socialism, which Buber’s social psychology was hard-pressed to comprehend.

Winnicott observes that the healthy person maintains his self-esteem as well as his doubts, and is able to discern the difference between inner and external conflict. “When healthy persons come together they each contribute a whole world, because each brings a whole person,” he writes. They are capable of becoming depressed, rather than automatically joining group manias and seeking domination of others.31

A rich, nurturing sense of culture can be found in Winnicott’s analogy of the holding environment of mother and infant to the wider world, which “provides a refuge or fellow feeling and the fact that we are all human.” Similar echoes of this “holding environment” can be found in Buber’s Gemeinschaft, which affirms fellowship and community while countering coercion and domination.

Illness, writes Buber, represents distortion, both because the individual closes himself off from the world and because society rejects the person, refusing to offer confirmation. It is critical that a healthy culture, therefore, offer treatment that not merely aims to “integrate” or “adjust” an individual to the prevailing society, but that seeks to restore the person’s interrupted dialogical relations.

Finally, both Buber and Winnicott find that healthy communal life requires its members to assume ongoing responsibility for the well being of others in the group. “It is human beings who are likely to destroy the world,” concludes Winnicott. “If so, we can perhaps die . . . knowing that this is not health but fear; it is part of the failure of healthy people and healthy society to carry its ill members.”32 To care for others means that, for both Winnicott and Buber, persons move outside themselves with a newfound sense of courage. Assuming such responsibility for others encourages and restores genuine relations between persons, and in so doing enables the ethical and spiritual regeneration of the wider world. The transitional space, or das Zwischenmenschliche, therefore remains critical for the preservation of a morally accountable world community, where the ability to relate meaningfully to others continues as an ever-present—and perduring—reality.
liminalspaces  laurapraglin  dwwinnicott  martinbuber  psychology  between  betweenness  community  responsibility  coercion  domination  fellowship  liminality 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Tacos, bras, bars and patriarchy - LA Times
"The California section's Amina Khan recently took a stroll along a surprisingly lush stretch of the Los Angeles River with Kate Johnston, a co-founder of the Women's Center for Creative Work. Since 2013, the center has roamed Los Angeles without a permanent home, whipping up projects such as the Feminist Library on Wheels, a bookcycle offering a crowd-sourced collection of feminist writing. Now the center has settled into a space along the L.A. River, not far from the historic Woman's Building in Chinatown. After the river walk, we emailed Johnston a few questions. We've crunched the conversation into this.

What is it with you and the L.A. River?

The L.A. River is an in-between space: between pavement and nature, between freeway and railroad tracks, between beautiful and abject. In-between spaces are generative; new ideas can slip in where things are not fully formed.

Creative medium of choice?

Graphic design.

Rock, paper or scissors?

Rock. I collect rocks everywhere I go, and they're all over my house.

After a year roving Los Angeles, your organization finally got a space. Is it better to rove or put down roots?

Both are important. When you're mobile, you get to exist in that in-between space with infinite potentiality in all directions. When you're stationary, you get to create a home. We will never stop doing mobile programming, even though we now have a brick-and-mortar location. Now we just have more options.

Favorite thing to eat in L.A.?

Tacos are the quintessential Angeleno food: Inevitably there is more than one, so your plate has several centers. The structure of meat on tortilla is loose and filled with potential; you can choose to make each one into what you want with various toppings.

In the space of a tweet, what is feminism?

To paraphrase bell hooks, feminism is the process that works to dismantle the imperialist, white supremacist, capitalist patriarchy.

Who isn't a feminist?

Todd Akin

Someone tells you that feminism is about bra-burning and husband-hating.

Bras are amazing tools that keep your boobs in place when you're working out; why would you want to burn one? Also, if you hate your husband, that sounds like a personal problem. The myth that feminism is a separatist movement of humorless extremists was started as a way to shame women into not feeling like they deserve things like equal pay. I tell people to come to our events, then they find out that feminism is more about having dance parties. I personally appreciate wearing a bra at a dance party, but to each their own.

L.A. has a reputation for being a difficult place to develop "community." What does that term really mean?

A community is a group of individuals who are brought together by a shared intention. The usual line is that we have to be very deliberate about building community in this city because we have so many centers and a paucity of public space. But temporary communities count too: If you're standing in line at the grocery store and a child drops a glass bottle and juice goes everywhere, everyone turns and looks at the same thing for a moment; maybe they even say something about it to each other or to the child's parent. That's an instant fleeting community, and it's super real.

Is there a specific 2-foot-square spot you'd go stand in when you're feeling low?

In front of a bar. Few things can't be cured by a drink with a friend."
aminakhan  losangeles  art  lariver  losangelesriver  feministlibraryonwheels  women'scenterforcreativework  liminalspaces  via:davidtheriault  permanency  ephemeral  liminality  community  ephemerality 
may 2016 by robertogreco
On the Edge | Boom: A Journal of California
"To understand why the Dutch photographer Marie-José Jongerius wanted to photograph in the American Far West—in particular that part of it that runs from Los Angeles inland to Las Vegas, south to Tijuana, and north up through the Central Valley of California—it helps to know something about boundaries and contrast. To know why it’s important to behold her work, it’s critical to know about how that dividing line of sight is not a two-dimensional geometrical figure, but a four-dimensional zone we label the liminal.

Eighty percent of everything we know about the world comes through our eyes, such a vast amount of information (100 million bits per second) that the brain is forced to throw away 90 percent of what hits the surface of the eye, transmitting only 10 percent to the brain for processing. That one-tenth of the world is what we see, the light triaged into about two dozen basic shapes. Circles, ovals, rectilinear shapes such as squares, polygons such as triangles, and then more ambiguously, right angles and arcs. Everything we see in the world is assembled from those shapes, which are made by lines that create the inside and the outside, the left and right, the top and bottom. We are upright bilaterally symmetrical animals, and we organize the information received accordingly. What the lines define around vertical and horizontal axes is boundary contrast, perhaps the second oldest visual notion we own after undifferentiated light and dark. It’s a recognition of line that separates us from the cognition of plants.

Boundaries in the environment are what we tend to move along, as they are rich with information, food, and consequently danger. The edge of the forest where it becomes a meadow is where we find the small animals that are natural human prey. They hide in the safety of the forest, but when they creep and hop and run out into the meadow for food, they become visible and vulnerable. We aren’t so different from the raptors that fly overhead, seeking the same visual information and food source. It’s along the borders and boundaries of the world where photographers can often be found shooting, as well.

The human eye roves about a landscape in staccato movements called saccades. A saccade is a very quick sampling several times a second of what is in front of us; it allows us to identify where we are and what’s around us. Saccades follow general priorities in a rough order: What fits in, what’s anomalous, what displays the bilateral symmetry that can mean friend or foe, what’s in motion and in what direction. When we look at a photograph of a landscape, our eyes tend to follow that same prioritized pattern.

The landscape in which we are most secure while scoping out what’s in our environment is one where we can see and not be seen, and you can see how artists throughout history have intuited that scheme and used it. Claude Lorrain framed his landscapes in the 1600s with dark foliage in the forefront, the view of the artist and viewer alike peering out across the boundary of sanctuary and into the sunlit meadows and ponds beyond. American landscape artists three hundred years later were still using the same format, whether it was Thomas Cole along the Hudson River, Frederic Church in the Andes, or Albert Bierstadt in the Rocky Mountains. Anthropologists call this a conceal-and-reveal, or a refuge-and-prospect landscape. It’s our ancestral home, as well as the design of a contemporary living room, the drapes forming a natural screen from around which we peer onto the street.

The human gaze, whether in the landscape or looking at a picture of a landscape, follows rules shaped by our physical relation to the world, and when an artist takes us out to the edge of where our human neurophysiology is comfortable—out from behind the trees or curtains and into places where boundaries become ambiguous—both our unease and levels of alertness are heightened. When we enter the in-between place, where a line assumes three spatial and dimensions and time as a boundary zone—the liminal—we’re aware that we, too, could become prey, if not to actual threat, then to unnamed fears.

The edge of the shade cast by a tree is seldom a sharp edge, but instead a blurred line caused by the fractal arrangement of leaves overhead, the dappling of sunlight through a permeable crown of foliage, and limbs moving in the breeze. Daylight does not terminate in sudden darkness, even in the tropics where the sun seems to drop like a stone into the ocean; there is always a series of twilights—a civil twilight, a nautical twilight, an astronomical twilight. During the civil stage, the first planets and brightest stars appear. The second stage sees the horizon disappear from view to the navigator. The third is that time of the faintest reflected light high in the atmosphere when we think it’s dark, but it isn’t quite yet.

These are temporal zones of ambiguity that give us pause, and, along with the spatial ones, they have their parallels in everything from literature to architecture. Science fiction horror stories are rife with twilights when the world turns strange. Houses have anterooms, and cities have bridges and sidewalks, places where passage is made but people seldom live. Those people who inhabit such domains are referred to as the homeless. Purgatory is another shaded place of indeterminacy, a rite of passage. This is what is meant by the liminal, where the zone between states means to be both inside and outside, up and down, left and right—and yet none of those things. That is where Marie-José Jongerius searches for her images. The name of her project, Edge of the Experiment, was chosen for a reason.

When Joseph Campbell wrote The Hero with a Thousand Faces, he was working from the work done by the French ethnographer Arnold van Gennep, who in his book The Rites of Passage (1909) described the process of liminaire, the deliberate dislocation of your normal senses into a liminal state of confusion and openness through which pretechnological peoples would pass during initiation rituals in order to gain adulthood or sacred knowledge. The anthropologist Victor Turner (1920–1983), who expanded Gennep’s research, studied rituals and rites among the Ndembu tribe of Zambia. He noted how the experience of an ambiguous zone can lead to paradigm shifts for contemporary individuals as well as tribespeople and postulated that the theater was a liminal space too, suspension of reality during the performance enabling the audience to undergo a transformation.
To work as a writer with photographers in the field, when they are concentrating so hard they cannot talk, is to become entranced with the landscape, to participate in a shared trance.

Making art is a kind of ritual and never more so than for the photographer setting up a tripod and her 4×5 large-format Crown Graphic field camera, framing the view on the ground glass and bringing it into focus, selecting the moment to trip the shutter. Repeated over and over again, especially for those photographers who also do commercial work, such as Jongerius, it becomes an automatic yet hyper-alert, almost Zen-like discipline. To work as a writer with photographers in the field, when they are concentrating so hard they cannot talk, is to become yourself entranced with the landscape, to participate in a shared trance. To couple that mental discipline with a zone of visual ambiguity, a liminal space, is to risk taking your cognition where it hasn’t been before. This is the terrain where Jongerius is happiest."
photography  marie-joséjongerius  california  socal  lasvagas  losangeles  tijuana  liminality  liminal  williamlfox  borders  boundaries  border  landscape  josephcampbell  arnoldvangennep  victorturner  claudelorrain  albertbierstadt  thomascole  fredericchurch  centralvalley  liminalspaces 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Trespassers on the rooftops: a secret history of Mexico City's cultural revolutionaries | Cities | The Guardian
"In the 1920s, Mexico City’s roof spaces, or azoteas, became a laboratory for modernist creativity, offering a space where artists and thinkers could push the boundaries of culture and bridge the gaps in society, writes Valeria Luiselli"



"In the 1920s, Mexico City’s roof spaces, or azoteas, became a laboratory for modernist creativity, offering a space where artists and thinkers could push the boundaries of culture and bridge the gaps in society

[…]

The “rooftop bohemia”, in turn, did not always comply to the standards of the government’s plans and programmes – rooftops often engendered a poetics of transgression. Indeed, in the late 1920s and early 30s, during the period known as the “Maximato” – when Pascual Ortiz Rubio became president but, de facto, the authoritarian Plutarco Elías Calles controlled the government – many of these rooftop dwellers came to be seen not only as transgressive, but downright unwelcome in the country.

[…]

If we think of Mexico City in terms of its many horizontal layers – ground floor, first floor, second floor – then the layer that in the 1920s stretched out horizontally at about 15 metres above the ground, can be thought of as a kind of semi-invisible, experimental laboratory for modernist creativity and its shifting of moral parameters. The relative invisibility, both physical and cultural, of rooftop rooms allowed an alternative way of life and, concomitantly, a form of cultural production that pushed the boundaries of Mexican literary and visual culture.

Although the new azotea trespassers, these middle-class transplants to rooftop-dwelling, could not actually see each other from their respective rooftops, the fact that a group of diverse but to a degree like-minded people were living and producing work at that particular level, at that particular height of the cityscape, must have had an effect on how they all imagined their place in the city. Even if Modotti, Weston and Toor, Novo and Villaurrutia, Dr Atl and Ollin may not have always crossed ideological and aesthetic paths, they knew each other and of one another, and each knew that the other was playing out their daily life at a similar height, in similar spaces.

For minds that are habituated to thinking of living in terms of its possibilities of representation – narrative, poetic, pictorial, photographic – space is more than just the barren grounds in which daily life and daily work happen be. Thus, at least in a purely symbolic plane, these rooftop dwellers may well have imagined themselves as intermediaries, placed as bridges between the “inside” and the “outside” of the city. Their work – modernist journals, translation magazines, photographic or pictorial portraits, events depicted in abstracted photographs of the city below – responded to the condition of the liminal place they chose to inhabit, both physical and intellectual.

In this sense, rooftop-dwellers can be seen, too, as translators: bridging the gap between inside and outside, between the English and the Spanish-speaking world, between the Mexican indigenous population and the Mexican elite, between the local and the foreign. Whatever their own particular endeavours, together they played a part in the making of international modernism in Mexico."
mexico  mexicocity  mexicodf  rooftops  revolution  space  place  azoteas  creativity  art  thinking  freedom  liminality  liminalspaces  2015  valerialuiselli  edwardweston  tonamodotti  nahuiollin  francestoor  dratl  xaviervillarrutia  salvadornovo  transcression  poetry  poets  subversion  ulises  translation  df 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Victor Hwang at Austin Community College, December 11, 2014 : The Best Commencement Speeches, Ever : NPR
"When you go fishing, the best places to drop your line are at the transition points, where light meets dark, shallow meets deep, fast meets slow. The same is true for human life." —Victor Hwang, Austin Community College, December 11, 2014
seams  scars  2014  liminality  borders  edges  transitions  crosspollination  interdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  victorhwang  liminalspaces  littoralzone 
july 2015 by robertogreco
HIBINOSEKKEI + youji no shiro display gridded façade on hanazono kindergarten
"keeping to the local architectural styles of the miyakojima region- an island 2000km away from tokyo- this is where the hanazono kindergarten and nursery is located. designed by HIBINOSEKKEI and youji no shiro, the building has been characterized by its subtropical, oceanic climate as well as its surrounding context. immersing the children with the outdoors and encouraging creativity are two main elements underlined throughout the nursery. the ground floor, open, breazy and like a studio, is dedicated to art and simultaneously promotes comfortable ventilation. the kindergarten features courtyards and terraces allowing the children to integrating learning, playing and eating outside whenever it is possible."
hibinosekkei  youjinoshiro  architecture  design  schooldesign  education  kindergarten  japan  children  littoralzone  indooroutdoor  schools  liminalspaces  liminality 
may 2015 by robertogreco
The Littoral Space — Matter — Medium
"The littoral zone is defined as the intertidal segment of a beach, from the splash region above the high-water mark to full submergence of the shore. It’s the part that is constantly shifting and changing. You can certainly measure the high-water mark with a strong degree of accuracy over years, but you can’t predict how the spray will land when the tide is high, and the waves will do as they wish. The ocean has its own agency, and the sand is always shifting under your feet.

I’ve been a full-time freelance writer for something approaching 25 years, now. For most writers, me included, that is a littoral space to live in.

The sand is always shifting under my feet. The tides are broadly predictable on an ordinary day, but there aren’t many ordinary days. There have been days out here where a storm system has been bouncing around the estuary, travelling out of sight towards the far tip of the Kent coast, and then ricocheting off and dragging the river with it to unexpectedly smash up against our walls. Sometimes a weather system will get stuck and wheel over the town for days. Every now and then, some nightmare storm will brew up in a dark and unseen region of the North Sea and then hammer up the river like the Mongol Horde in full stampede."



"You discover, later, that you’re not good enough, or not lucky enough, or not present enough, and you made too many important decisions on the fly because you were too busy or too scattered or too tired, and that you’re never going to be that person who writes one of those inspirational blog posts about success. You’re in your 40s and you’re still standing on the shore, keeping a wary eye on the riptide, because you know that all the small things you’ve built could be swept away overnight."
littoralzone  warrenellis  writing  freelancing  2015  life  economics  impermanence  change  jacobmagraw  liminalspaces  liminality 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Blog - by Allen Tan - An accent marks the lag between two cultures, two...
"An accent marks the lag between two cultures, two languages, the space where you let go of one identity, invent another, and end up being more than one person though never quite two." —André Aciman in Letters of Transit: Reflections on Exile, Identity, Language, and Loss
andréaciman  language  accents  identity  languages  speech  exile  connection  betweenness  migration  immigration  belonging  culture  seams  interstitial  thirdculture  liminality  liminalspaces  liminalstates  between 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Marginal Space - Marginal Space as a Concept
"In libraries, marginal space is a rather technical term used primarily to refer to binding -- what we do to assemble pages into a unit, or volume. The pages must have blank space at the edges that will be joined, or else the binding will prevent the reader from seeing what was there. A book or journal can have wide margins (good for blinding) or tight margins (not so good).

Marginal space is a concept that is also used in many, many other domains. Here are just a few examples.

"Liminality is not concerned with the old strategies of the edge, the avant garde and the marginal. Instead it is a notion offering a new way to experiment and create using the in between spaces, the interstices. Liminality is fluid, open, unfixed, inclusive, diverse." Shards of Memories, Fragments of Sorrows: Transforming Marginal Space into Liminal Space for Women in Theatre (PDF: large)

"Today the Marginal space grows wider and more interesting while the space for the main text seems to shrink in significance."
Judith McGrath, Carolina Arts, November 2004.

"Marginal space is public space that, lacking satisfactory levels of design, amenities, or aesthetic appeal deters members of the public from using the space for any purpose."
NYC Dept. of City Planning

"If you're working with marginal space ... Well, one of those spaces is on the edge of the law." Adam Chodzko

"Society can establish a stable position by creating some marginal space. Often, only by creating an outside, by creating ideological dichotomies a society can generate stability."
Toshiya Ueno

So, me? I am fascinated with margins, spaces, boundaries, how and why we decide what and who fits in which boxes, and then also how to blur or make crisp the edges between boxes and boundaries and edges. This is my space to explore marginal space."q
margins  marginalspace  binding  publishing  marginalia  liminality  2006  liminalspaces 
august 2014 by robertogreco
#53 I don't need a car
"I'm shopping for a used car—a Prius—and at any given time there is a small pool of well-maintained second-generations Priuses with less than 125K miles available for under $8000 within a hundred-mile radius of zip code 11211 whose owners can meet at a mutually convenient time to get the car inspected by an independent mechanic. But while I'm browsing, "any given time" feels more like "all given times," and I notice myself looking outside my price and distance and growing more accepting of suspicious vehicle histories, because, like, what if I don't find anything before my rental car is up.

I'm ignoring the wilderness of Priuses not yet on the market. And the deep wilderness beyond that—extending my rental car, using alternate forms of transportation, or returning to a living situation that doesn't necessitate a car. Not to mention the even-deeper wilderness of things I can't imagine. We're constantly at the edge of this wilderness in all areas of our lives, from our relationships (the person we'll meet tomorrow) to work (the gig we'll get emailed about next week) to writing (the experience this summer that turns into a book three years later). To be alive is to walk into the wild.

I'll find my perfect car not by stressing over whether I'm going to find the perfect car, but by waiting for the conditions of perfection to change, on their own, so that when they do align, I'll at least be there to appreciate it. A wise person told me that the best way to shop for a used car is to first tell yourself, I don't need a car.

I don't need a car,
Jack"
liminality  jackcheng  2014  betweenness  searching  wilderness  uncertainty  between  liminalspaces 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Seeing from Between: Toward a Poetics of Interloping : George Quasha : Harriet the Blog : The Poetry Foundation
"Poetry is translation. It takes one kind of experienced or thought reality and turns it into language—a linguality or language reality that is conscious of itself in a way that’s relatively unusual. Of course this is obvious enough, and yet what’s not always so clear is how much the view of language we hold (actively or passively) determines the outcome. I suppose that, due to the attention given rather specialized emphases in recent poetics (language poetry, conceptualism, Oulipo, etc.), poets often find it necessary to takes sides on, or at least defend, values designated by words like “content,” “politics,” “experience”; this is understandable and may be useful to them and others (recent blogs by Camille Rankine and David Lau are particularly strong statements), especially in a context where respected poetic approaches appear exclusive in one way or another. Yet the simple fact that privileged words like “content” and “politics” do not have consistent meaning (beyond what a poet’s own work or a specific social context supplies) indicates that whatever we defend is not necessarily there the way we might believe it is. There are poets, as well, who center their activity at one level or another on this (post-Wittgensteinian) problematic of language, motivated perhaps by a certain vision of language or by a commitment to conscious language as intrinsically transformative. It should be obvious that focus on the substance of language itself does not mean that these poets are not concerned, even passionately, with issues like gender, racial equality, ecology, or the menace of capitalism, militarized police and State power. They may show up at the barricades, even if their work is not written to be read at the barricades.

Significant new directions in poetry have often come from outside the literary frame as such, and this might alert us to how much innovative poetic values and approaches are not only “literary” in nature, but are conscious attempts to embody radically alternative reality views by way of language. (In an important sense poetry is pre-literary, and it is arguably fundamental to the nature of language itself. Literature, in this perspective, is historically later and is constructed on poetic foundations while often running counter to poetic values. We may come to see as well how poetry can be post-literary.) Looked at in this way, poetry may be seen as language you must learn—learn by way of its implicit poetics—in order to participate in alignment with its principles. To see this more clearly I suggest a liminalist approach, one foot in a literary poetic and one foot not."



"Arakawa, collaborating pervasively with Gins, created charged language spaces on canvas, poetic action zones that challenge habits of reading, viewing and thinking at a level comparable to Blake’s all-out assault on limits of consciousness. Their 1979 The Mechanism of Meaning: Work in progress (1963-1971, 1978) unites painting and book in a way that creates a powerful event in both visual art and poetics. They have worked conceptually in a way related to both Dada and Duchamp’s developments thereof, but they always focused on an inquiry into certain principles, which they thought to have implications far beyond art alone."



"All intelligible connection with the world for Helen Keller is a language event occurring physically between her and another person. She + another create together a liminality that is the known/knowing world. Blank is also the space of an indeterminacy of agency: who/what’s doing the doing—what Arakawa/Gins call “the perceiving field.” I think here of Maurice Blanchot’s fiction with a poetics, Thomas the Obscure (Station Hill Press, 1988), in which at a certain point of shifting textual perspectivity it takes us performatively into the book reading the reader. His notion of récit (story, narrative, a telling) has resonance for all of the above: “not the narration of an event, but that event itself, the approach to that event, the place where that event is made to happen.”"
georgequasha  interloping  poetics  poetry  madelinegins  oulipo  arakawa  autopoesis  buckminsterfuller  happenstance  via:bobbygeorge  hellenkeller  johncage  wittgenstein  melopoeia  metpoeia  liminality  logopoeia  glossodelia  ezrapound  synergy  tensegrity  williamblake  susanbee  phanopoeia  sound  soundpoetry  marcelduchamp  mauriceblanchot  paulklee  charlesolson  axialpriniciple  garyhill  connections  fiction  narrative  translation  alfrednorthwhitehead  poems  writing  liminalspaces 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Bardo - Wikipedia
The Tibetan word bardo means literally "intermediate state"—also translated as "transitional state" or "in-between state" or "liminal state". In Sanskrit the concept has the name antarabhāva. It is a concept which arose soon after the Buddha's passing, with a number of earlier Buddhist groups accepting the existence of such an intermediate state, while other schools rejected it.

Used loosely, the term "bardo" refers to the state of existence intermediate between two lives on earth. According to Tibetan tradition, after death and before one's next birth, when one's consciousness is not connected with a physical body, one experiences a variety of phenomena. These usually follow a particular sequence of degeneration from, just after death, the clearest experiences of reality of which one is spiritually capable, and then proceeding to terrifying hallucinations that arise from the impulses of one's previous unskillful actions. For the prepared and appropriately trained individuals the bardo offers a state of great opportunity for liberation, since transcendental insight may arise with the direct experience of reality, while for others it can become a place of danger as the karmically created hallucinations can impel one into a less than desirable rebirth.

The term bardo can also be used metaphorically to describe times when our usual way of life becomes suspended, as, for example, during a period of illness or during a meditation retreat. Such times can prove fruitful for spiritual progress because external constraints diminish. However, they can also present challenges because our less skillful impulses may come to the foreground, just as in the sidpa bardo."
buddhism  death  tibetan  bardo  liminalspaces  liminalstates  transitions  movement  between  betweenness  inbetween  via:kissane  liminality 
february 2014 by robertogreco
Stuart Hall obituary | Education | The Guardian
"When the writer and academic Richard Hoggart founded the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at Birmingham University in 1964, he invited Stuart Hall, who has died aged 82, to join him as its first research fellow. Four years later Hall became acting director and, in 1972, director. Cultural studies was then a minority pursuit: half a century on it is everywhere, generating a wealth of significant work even if, in its institutionalised form, it can include intellectual positions that Hall could never endorse.

The foundations of cultural studies lay in an insistence on taking popular, low-status cultural forms seriously and tracing the interweaving threads of culture, power and politics. Its interdisciplinary perspectives drew on literary theory, linguistics and cultural anthropology in order to analyse subjects as diverse as youth sub-cultures, popular media and gendered and ethnic identities – thus creating something of a model, for example, for the Guardian's own G2 section.

Hall was always among the first to identify key questions of the age, and routinely sceptical about easy answers. A spellbinding orator and a teacher of enormous influence, he never indulged in academic point-scoring. Hall's political imagination combined vitality and subtlety; in the field of ideas he was tough, ready to combat positions he believed to be politically dangerous. Yet he was unfailingly courteous, generous towards students, activists, artists and visitors from across the globe, many of whom came to love him. Hall won accolades from universities worldwide, despite never thinking of himself as a scholar. Universities offered him a base from which he could teach – a source of great pleasure for him – and collaborate with others in public debate."



"Ambivalent about his relation both to his place of departure and to his place of arrival, he sought to survive the medieval gloom of Oxford by making common cause with the city's displaced migrant minority."


"In Birmingham, under Hall's charismatic leadership – and on a shoestring budget – cultural studies took off. But as Hoggart remarked, Hall rarely used the first person singular, preferring to speak of the collaborative aspects of the work. His energy was prodigious and he shifted the terms of debate on the media, deviancy, race, politics, Marxism and critical theory.

While there are no single-authored, scholarly monographs to his name, Hall produced an astonishing array of collectively written and edited volumes, essays and journalism – translated into many languages – as well as countless political speeches, and radio and television talks.

In 1979 he became professor of sociology at the Open University, attracted by the possibility of reaching out to those who had fallen through the conventional educational system. He remained there until 1998 – later becoming emeritus professor – launching a series of courses in communications and sociology. Increasingly, he focused on questions of race and postcolonialism, and on theorising the migrant view of Britain that he had always cherished."



"Under New Labour he became increasingly furious that managerialism was hollowing out public life, and increasingly pessimistic about the global situation. Yet he was cheered that "someone with Hussein for a middle name" was sitting in the White House and, after the credit crunch, was mesmerised by the sight of capitalism falling apart of its own accord. Throughout, he maintained an optimism of the will, and as late as last year he and his colleagues on Soundings magazine were producing manifestos for a post-neoliberal politics."



"When he appeared on Desert Island Discs, Hall talked about his lifelong passion for Miles Davis. He said that the music represented for him "the sound of what cannot be". What was his own intellectual life but the striving, against all odds, to make "what cannot be" alive in the imagination?"
obituaries  2014  stuarthall  culturalstudies  culture  lcproject  openstudioproject  interdisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  nuance  subcultures  media  ethnicity  identity  institutionalization  colonialism  imperialism  decolonization  culturalanthropology  anthropology  literarytheory  multiliteracies  power  politics  gender  openuniversity  humility  collaboration  marxism  neoliberalism  activism  managerialism  liminalspaces  liminality 
february 2014 by robertogreco
The New York Review of Science Fiction: Liminal Places and Liminal States in John Crowley’s Little, Big, by Bernadette Lynn Bosky
"Especially over the past fifteen years, the terms “liminal” or “liminality” and “interstitial” have become increasingly popular in discussion of the arts. Some of these discussions, such as the mission statement of the Interstitial Arts Foundation, seem to use the term primarily in terms of work that crosses the borders of, and/or exists in the interstices between, different genres and art forms (also see Gordon 9). The conference on “Liminality in the Humanities” at the University of Utah takes the term a bit further, presenting papers at the borderlands and interstices of various disciplines. However, that conference also uses the term as it will be used in this study. So, even more strongly, does The International Seminar on Liminality and the Text and its associated journal and books published by Gateway Press.

This use of the terms is based on their origins in anthropology, referring to the borders of and spaces between categories much more fundamental than genre or even different arts. Towards the beginning of the last century, anthropologist Arnold van Gennep stated that rites of passage generally have three stages: “preliminal rites (rites of separation), liminal rites (rites of transition), and postliminal rites (rites of incorporation)” (11). In the 1960s and 1970s, Victor Turner expanded and somewhat adapted van Gennep’s work, concentrating on the liminal stage. As summarized by Richard E. Palmer:
Limen in Latin means threshold, and anthropologists like Turner have become interested in a certain state experienced by persons as they pass over the threshold from one stage of life to another. For instance, Turner notes that the rite of passage at puberty has three phases: separation from one’s status as a child . . . , then a liminal stage, and finally reintegration into society as a full and independent member with rites and responsibilities that the initiate did not have before. During the liminal stage, the between stage, one’s status becomes ambiguous, one is “neither here nor there”[;] one is “betwixt and between all fixed points of classification.” (1–2)


Two clear examples of a liminal state in modern Western culture are divorce and, even more so, marital separation. The couple isn’t joined anymore, but they aren’t separate. (Note even the switch from single to plural verb.) Rules from neither state apply; one is betwixt-and-between. Many people find that some others avoid them in such a liminal state, not knowing what to say or do. Another example is graduate school, an often arduous and curiously protracted liminal state. Graduate students aren’t professionals or students, yet they are both. They are expected to be bold as if the professors are colleagues but submissive as if they are only students; they are paid to teach but not paid much. Many of us would have preferred to be locked in a hut and fed only with implements that would be disposed of afterwards, a more common cultural response to such liminal states.

Places as well as times may be liminal. Crossroads are a meeting of two places and hence not fully either one; they are also, like the liminal stage of initiation, a place of possibilities and choices. Thus, it should not surprise us that the liminal figure of a vampire (neither alive nor dead, yet both) may be slain or buried there (see Clements, “Ogre” 39). Within a house, stairs, landings, and hallways are liminal areas—places we pass through, not generally places where people live. Unsurprisingly, landings, hallways, and stairs are among the most popular places for sightings of ghosts (us and not us, not alive or dead). Two even more popular places for ghost sightings are windows and doorways, which are quintessentially liminal, existing purely to separate yet join areas of room vs. room, room vs. hallway, inside vs. outside.

Here a distinction must be made between boundaries and thresholds, but a connection must be made as well. As stated by that quintessentially liminal figure, Hedwig of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, “Ain’t much difference/Between a bridge and a wall.” On the simplest level, that which separates is often also that which joins; one example is the semicolon.

More mythically, one of the goals of ritual is to turn boundaries into thresholds, as when a shaman crosses the barrier between our world and the other world and then personally forms a bridge between them or as a culture hero makes those boundaries less impermeable (Ellis). Roads and paths can be liminal also; they lead from one place to another, joining them, but also help define, for instance, what is safe versus what is not, as in the story “Little Red Riding Hood.” Finally, liminality is also connected to the idea of hybrids—that is, places, people, events, and things that take part in two categories that are thought of as being not only separate, but dichotomous, such as the ghost or vampire.

Note that many processes have a pattern of departure, entry into other realms, and return—Joseph Campbell’s pattern of the hero, for instance, and shamanic initiations. The difference here is that when it is defined as liminal, the middle stage presents not only physical, mental, and/or spiritual danger but also social and epistemological danger, as its very nature challenges the concept of categories of behavior and thought as absolute. In fact, at their most radical, these liminal areas challenge the binary nature of dichotomies that are supposed to be all encompassing: man/woman, human/animal, human/divine, approved/prohibited, life/death. Because it challenges these dichotomies, liminality is a source of great potential, but also at best uncanny and at worst abject.1 Liminal phenomena are taboo, again in the more technical sense—taboo things and processes are hedged with prohibitions, regarded as excluded and dangerous but still having great magic, religious, and/or social power. When William Clements discusses the work that Mary Douglas and Edmund Leach have done in this area, he concludes that liminal things and processes often inspire dread, perhaps because they “invite chaos by revealing the inadequacies of the ordering system that cannot accommodate them” (“Legends” 83). Those who understand the ordering system as inherent in life rather than constructed feel a different fear because then the anomalies become examples in themselves, or at least omens, of catastrophic rupture in the world itself (see Purcell).

Critics have commented on the mixing of genres in Little, Big. Thomas Disch remarks upon its “incredible tightrope act” between realistic human events and magic (159). James Hynes wittily describes the novel as “a long, gorgeously written picaresque family saga, in the last fifty pages of which all the major characters, with one heartbreaking exception, turn into fairies” (1). (Actually, the hint of an abrupt change within the book is vastly unfair: early indications of the presence of fairies may often be baffling to the first-time reader, but they are undeniable.) However, Little, Big is also a liminal book in a deeper, more mythic sense. It is about transitions, which are repeated on multiple scales and on multiple occasions: the turnings of the seasons and of the history of the world, the personal changes of the many characters and the overarching Tale of their final crossing-over from the world of human beings to the world of the fairies. Much of the book is about the peril and potential of these turning points. Boundary-crossings and the interstitial time between the old and the new are reflected in the novel’s nigh-ubiquitous use of liminal places, times, and processes. Characters generally do well or poorly based on their ability to live in, or at least accept, various degrees of conjunction of our world with that of the fairies.

Note that the world of the fairies is not, in itself, liminal. In fantasy, there is the place one gets to by crossing a threshold: the world of fairy, or Oz, or Shangri-La. Then, there is the place or time or condition that is the threshold itself. In most fantasies, the emphasis is on the former, while in Little, Big most of the pages and most of the emotional energy of the novel goes to the latter."



"The turning of the seasons is indicated by social holidays as well as the geophysical solstices and equinoxes. John Storm Drinkwater, writer and liminal figure who can communicate with the world of animals (192), significantly identifies Christmas as a spot out of time: “a kind of day, like no other in the year, that doesn’t seem to succeed the day it follows. . . . Every Christmas seemed to follow immediately after the last one; all the months between don’t figure in” (161). That is, the holiday is a liminal time in the technical sense, just as the period of transition in the ritual entry into adulthood has more in common with all other periods of transition, in such rituals back across the years, than to the initiate’s time before as a child and time after as an adult; and all of these out-of-time experiences are somehow the same time."



"John Crowley states in a 1994 interview, “One of the reasons you write fiction is because you can create your own world. You need that constant sense of possibility. If you don’t have that sense of possibility in your own life, don’t even feel a craving for that kind of possibility and change, it makes it hard to write” (4). Why someone with this opinion would be drawn to fiction with liminal concerns seems clear. First, the liminal state, with its breaking of old associations and even questioning of received categories of thought, is highly creative, perhaps containing the essence of creativity. Moreover, the process of writing a book is in some ways liminal, itself a transformative seclusion: while some worlds may be made immediately, with no pause—“Fiat lux!”—in general, lengthy processes of change and refashioning are essential to the act of creation, … [more]
liminality  liminalspaces  interstitial  johncrowley  bernadettelynnbosky  arnoldvangennep  anthropology  victorturner  richardpalmer  borders  thresholds  inbetween  crossroads  boundaries  josephcampbell  writing  worldbuilding  possibility  change  migration  transformation  trickster  cv  williamclements  marydouglas  edmundleach 
december 2013 by robertogreco
AAAARG!!!! I love the sentiment and the poetry of... • Harkaway
[Embedded image that reads: "You're a ghost driving a meat coated skeleton made from stardust, what do you have to be scared of?"]

"AAAARG!!!!

I love the sentiment and the poetry of this. I do. I get that it’s important.

But (with apologies to Theremina, who is awesome) it drives me CRAZY. Why?

Because NO, NO, NO, you are not a ghost driving a machine. You are not a tiny green homunculus sitting at the controls of a steampunk automaton. You are not Spock trapped in a body that wants to be Kirk. You are not dual, you are not refined intellect riding gross matter like an unruly mustang. You are not Ariel carried by Caliban.

You are you. Your body is you. Your cognition exists in the flesh. [http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2011/11/04/a-brief-guide-to-embodied-cognition-why-you-are-not-your-brain/ ] It is not separate, not spun glass in the hands of a chimp. Your body creates your mind. Your gut, the ropy intestinal tract that digests your food, has 100,000,000 neurons in it. There are quite a lot of animals with fewer than that. Your whole physical shape, your food and drink, exercise, amount of sunshine, of sex, of affection, sitting position and amount of sleep, affects not only your mood but your supposedly pure cognitive choices. Look down and to the left and name a string of random number between zero and ten million. Now do the same looking up and to the right. The second batch will be higher. And your body’s genes play a role in your thinking, too - identical twins separated at birth and raised separately are often seen to develop, if not similar politics, similar moods of political opinion.

The need to separate the body from the mind comes from an old slander that physical matter is dross, simply too crude to support the fineness that is thought. Physical matter, forever dancing around energy, shifting from one configuration to another, even now withholding secrets from our most sophisticated inquisitors, is not crude. It is brilliant, and yes, you are made of stardust and stars are made of you, so why - oh, why - would you try to distance yourself from the beauty of it and reach for comfort in the form of some old Cartesian slur derived from a tacit heteropatriarchal fear of physical desire?

Consider what you are: the most recent iteration of your genetic code, itself the product of strange chemistry in bubbling primordial pools, in turn resting upon vast releases of energy into stunning cold according to a template almost bizarrely suited to the emergence of conscious life - which may, in turn, be a vital component of its function. Caught midway between the appalling vastness of the Newton-Einstein universe and the implausible mechanics of the tiny, you exist in both; composed largely of water, whose relationship with the quantum world is only just beginning to reveal itself, you are gorgeously liminal, fragile, biological and complex.

And, that, that is why you’re incredible."

[via: http://snarkmarket.com/2013/8191 ]
nickharkaway  2013  cognition  humans  embodiment  physicality  context  genetics  complexity  biology  fragility  liminality  liminalspaces 
november 2013 by robertogreco

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