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robertogreco : possibilities   6

Walking While Black | Literary Hub
"Within days I noticed that many people on the street seemed apprehensive of me: Some gave me a circumspect glance as they approached, and then crossed the street; others, ahead, would glance behind, register my presence, and then speed up; older white women clutched their bags; young white men nervously greeted me, as if exchanging a salutation for their safety: “What’s up, bro?” On one occasion, less than a month after my arrival, I tried to help a man whose wheelchair was stuck in the middle of a crosswalk; he threatened to shoot me in the face, then asked a white pedestrian for help.

I wasn’t prepared for any of this. I had come from a majority-black country in which no one was wary of me because of my skin color. Now I wasn’t sure who was afraid of me. I was especially unprepared for the cops. They regularly stopped and bullied me, asking questions that took my guilt for granted. I’d never received what many of my African-American friends call “The Talk”: No parents had told me how to behave when I was stopped by the police, how to be as polite and cooperative as possible, no matter what they said or did to me. So I had to cobble together my own rules of engagement. Thicken my Jamaican accent. Quickly mention my college. “Accidentally” pull out my college identification card when asked for my driver’s license.

My survival tactics began well before I left my dorm. I got out of the shower with the police in my head, assembling a cop-proof wardrobe. Light-colored oxford shirt. V-neck sweater. Khaki pants. Chukkas. Sweatshirt or T-shirt with my university insignia. When I walked I regularly had my identity challenged, but I also found ways to assert it. (So I’d dress Ivy League style, but would, later on, add my Jamaican pedigree by wearing Clarks Desert Boots, the footwear of choice of Jamaican street culture.) Yet the all-American sartorial choice of white T-shirt and jeans, which many police officers see as the uniform of black troublemakers, was off-limits to me—at least, if I wanted to have the freedom of movement I desired.

In this city of exuberant streets, walking became a complex and often oppressive negotiation. I would see a white woman walking towards me at night and cross the street to reassure her that she was safe. I would forget something at home but not immediately turn around if someone was behind me, because I discovered that a sudden backtrack could cause alarm. (I had a cardinal rule: Keep a wide perimeter from people who might consider me a danger. If not, danger might visit me.) New Orleans suddenly felt more dangerous than Jamaica. The sidewalk was a minefield, and every hesitation and self-censored compensation reduced my dignity. Despite my best efforts, the streets never felt comfortably safe. Even a simple salutation was suspect.

One night, returning to the house that, eight years after my arrival, I thought I’d earned the right to call my home, I waved to a cop driving by. Moments later, I was against his car in handcuffs. When I later asked him—sheepishly, of course; any other way would have asked for bruises—why he had detained me, he said my greeting had aroused his suspicion. “No one waves to the police,” he explained. When I told friends of his response, it was my behavior, not his, that they saw as absurd. “Now why would you do a dumb thing like that?” said one. “You know better than to make nice with police.”"



"Walking had returned to me a greater set of possibilities. And why walk, if not to create a new set of possibilities? Following serendipity, I added new routes to the mental maps I had made from constant walking in that city from childhood to young adulthood, traced variations on the old pathways. Serendipity, a mentor once told me, is a secular way of speaking of grace; it’s unearned favor. Seen theologically, then, walking is an act of faith. Walking is, after all, interrupted falling. We see, we listen, we speak, and we trust that each step we take won’t be our last, but will lead us into a richer understanding of the self and the world.

In Jamaica, I felt once again as if the only identity that mattered was my own, not the constricted one that others had constructed for me. I strolled into my better self. I said, along with Kierkegaard, “I have walked myself into my best thoughts.”"



"Walking while black restricts the experience of walking, renders inaccessible the classic Romantic experience of walking alone. It forces me to be in constant relationship with others, unable to join the New York flaneurs I had read about and hoped to join. Instead of meandering aimlessly in the footsteps of Whitman, Melville, Kazin, and Vivian Gornick, more often, I felt that I was tiptoeing in Baldwin’s—the Baldwin who wrote, way back in 1960, “Rare, indeed, is the Harlem citizen, from the most circumspect church member to the most shiftless adolescent, who does not have a long tale to tell of police incompetence, injustice, or brutality. I myself have witnessed and endured it more than once.”

Walking as a black man has made me feel simultaneously more removed from the city, in my awareness that I am perceived as suspect, and more closely connected to it, in the full attentiveness demanded by my vigilance. It has made me walk more purposefully in the city, becoming part of its flow, rather than observing, standing apart.

* * * *

But it also means that I’m still trying to arrive in a city that isn’t quite mine. One definition of home is that it’s somewhere we can most be ourselves. And when are we more ourselves but when walking, that natural state in which we repeat one of the first actions we learned? Walking—the simple, monotonous act of placing one foot before the other to prevent falling—turns out not to be so simple if you’re black. Walking alone has been anything but monotonous for me; monotony is a luxury.

A foot leaves, a foot lands, and our longing gives it momentum from rest to rest. We long to look, to think, to talk, to get away. But more than anything else, we long to be free. We want the freedom and pleasure of walking without fear—without others’ fear—wherever we choose. I’ve lived in New York City for almost a decade and have not stopped walking its fascinating streets. And I have not stopped longing to find the solace that I found as a kid on the streets of Kingston. Much as coming to know New York City’s streets has made it closer to home to me, the city also withholds itself from me via those very streets. I walk them, alternately invisible and too prominent. So I walk caught between memory and forgetting, between memory and forgiveness."
garnettecadogan  racism  blackness  race  walking  nyc  neworleans  nola  serendipity  anonymity  fear  judgement  fatswaller  waltwhitman  kingston  jamaica  us  via:ayjay  racialprofiling  police  lawenforcement  possibility  possibilities  grace  favor  faith  hermanmelville  alfredkazin  elizabethhardwick  janejacobs  memory  forgiveness  forgetting  freedom 
july 2016 by robertogreco
The Uses of Art: Little Beasts | The American Reader
"Let us in our imaginations allow all this critique and disappointment to raze participatory art to the ground. Let us do away with it along with the other outmoded utopias. We live now in a world so saturated with the engagement (post, snap, tweet, comment, yo) that even commenting on that situation has become superfluous. We might think of ourselves as in a post-participatory condition. In mood, there is little hope. Change occurs as fitfully as it always has. Personal transformation passes through us convulsively, but cure eludes.

If we destroy as much as we can, oddly, the sense of possibility pokes back up, stems of quackgrass in the rubble of a vacant lot. Pretty soon we have a post-apocalyptic grove of frondy locust trees to contend with. There is something stubborn and persistent that remains, some reason that people keep trying to do this impossible thing.

Participatory art survives and not just on the margins. The less hope we have for art’s political and social efficacy, the more hyper-optimistic work appears and proliferates, under new names and old: Durational Performance, Neo-situationism, Intervention, Social Practice, Socially Engaged Art. Sometimes it’s just called “art.” Often it takes the form of “projects” which try to escape claims in relation to art history or art discourse.

Whatever we think of its chances, participatory art is an explicit antidote to the extreme narcissism of the ordinary material work of art. Walking through white cubes it becomes obvious that the expensive celebrity objects in our museums and galleries do not need us. That’s what they proclaim in their serenity and their stillness. They exist outside of time, complete unto themselves. We are patient before them, ready to be affected, but we cannot affect them in turn. Landscapes shimmer, the depicted stare out, bodies present themselves for our gaze. But the artwork fundamentally doesn’t care whether we are moved or indifferent, aroused or disgusted. It doesn’t even care if we look at it or turn away. It is unchanged by ignorance, by knowing little nods, by crowds of swooners, by expert dismissals. It sails on through time, accepting its preservation, its custodial care, as its due."



"Clark, along with several contemporaries in the influential Brazilian Neo-concretist movement (Amilcar de Castro, Ferreira Gullar, Franz Weissmann, Lygia Pape, Reynaldo Jardim and Theon Spanudis) argued for an art that was “always in the present, always in the process of beginning over,” an art which brought back “a primal—total—experience of the real.” Beginning in 1960 with her series of Bichos (beasts), she made the leap from ordinary geometric abstraction to objects meant to be handled directly by the viewer."



"Clark and other participatory artists are part of a long tradition of demystification—of deliberate attempts to destroy the mana of the work of art by treating it casually, and in so doing to destroy the political gradient between the work and the viewer. In this way, participatory art aims to change the deep structure of the art experience.

To the extent an artwork signals its hierarchical relation to the viewer, to the extent to which it is considered more valuable (financially, absolutely) than the viewer, the form of relation it offers can overwhelm any subversive “content.”

Clark’s Bichos, by demanding touch and rearrangement, propose that art can move from icon or totem to toy. A toy acts intimately. A toy does not and cannot rule its player. It can only invite. As Johan Huizinga suggested in his classic Homo Ludens, play is a free activity. “Play to order is not play: it could at best be a forcible imitation of it.”

This, in potential, gives another register to my self-consciousness and my failure to fall immersively into play with Clark’s Bicho. Between me and the Bicho is a question, a field of possibilities. It is precisely in uncertainty, in the possibility of saying no, or being unable to play, that the desire for real relation can be discovered."



"As I move the plates and hinges she says: “You are the artist, you can make whatever you want.” Generally, this is a sentiment I like, but here it strikes me as missing something crucial. It encourages you to notice your own agency but obscures the curious counter-agency of the object in your hands.

Kids, she says, are better than adults.

“Better at playing?” I ask.

“They ask permission. The adults, if they push too hard, they could break the piece.”

Even though the guard is friendly, and easy with me, her watching makes it even harder to really play. I don’t feel like either an artist or a child."



"As the Sixties ended, Clark moved away from art and especially from museums and galleries. She shifted her work to a class she taught at the Sorbonne in Paris on gestural communication. There, she developed new “relational objects,” sensory prosthetics, and experimental rituals. Imagine a group of Sorbonne students enacting Baba Antropofagica (Anthropophagic Drool), unspooling thread from their mouths and layering a tangle of saliva covered strands over a fellow student, or picture them blindfolded and trying to eat a piece of fruit from a pouch of another student’s suit.

In the milieus of Paris and Rio, rich with psychoanalytic theory and practice, Clark began to call her work psychotherapy, and when she moved back to Rio de Janeiro in 1976 she worked privately with therapeutic participants in a project she called Estruturação do Self (Structuring the Self).

In the account of Suely Rolnik, who knew Clark and has written about her extensively, “[Clark] dedicated a room of her flat to a sort of installation, where she received each person individually for one-hour-long sessions one to three times a week over a period of months, and in some cases, even a period of years. The Relational Objects were the instruments conceived by the artist to touch the bodies of her ‘clients,’ as she referred to those who were available to experience this proposal. Naked, they would lay on one of those objects, the Grande Colchão (Large Mattress), and the session would begin.”

Although Clark called this private practice therapy, she also said that she never stopped being an artist. Estruturação do Self opens the possibility of a way of art which is not merely participatory, a form of art in which the body of the artist is copresent with the art object and with the participant in a mutual relation. Too intimate, perhaps, for most. When I imagine it, I keep picturing the sensation of being covered with drool-soaked strands."



"Clark says, “True participation is open and we will never be able to know what we give to the spectator-author. It is precisely because of this that I speak of a well, from inside which a sound would be taken, not by the you-well, but by the other, in the sense that he throws his own stone.”

My own stone falls as into a shallow street puddle. Thudplop.

The problem is one of time, and of giving in. I can’t seem to give into the Bicho’s time. Its movement, yes, its lived time, no. Maybe for others this lived time would emerge more easily. Perhaps if I were a child, the fascination of the changing forms would absorb me totally. Maybe they would become dreams and stories. I want them to.

It’s as if I need the Bicho to step forward like a pet and command my attention, butting my hand with its head. Yes, now, play with me, no, don’t stop petting, don’t stop throwing the ball."



"Wanting to walk with her, I rummage around my studio for a roll of adding machine paper, glue up some Möbius strips and go out for coffee while the glue dries. When I come back, I begin cutting. “Pierce,” says Clark, so I stab the paper with the open blade and start. My scissors aren’t the best, they’re sticky and the grip seems to be made for child aliens, but despite that I am soon in a rhythm of cutting. I think of the tiny blunt scissors I saw in the hands of visitors at MoMA. I cut and cut, going around. As you meet your original cut, where the scissors have torn awkwardly into the paper, there is a choice, cut to the right or the left. I go left and steer towards the edge, to preserve as much thickness as I can. As I come around to that mark a second time I realize I’ve mistaken the geometry for a loop, my left and right are now reversed, and I’ve saved nothing. Keep going. It is indeed a little like walking. And like making. There’s a shivery doubling or layering of experience—walking is making, making is playing, mine is hers. It doesn’t much matter in that moment whose the making is, Lygia Clark’s or mine. I know I’m not having as romantic an experience as she might hope for, but there, in my studio, as the ribbon of adding machine paper gets thinner and thinner in a geometry that quickly escapes my full imagining, something is happening that wouldn’t otherwise happen. From my scissors, a tangle that is one continuous piece of paper collects at my feet, a paradox object. The making of the object is not in service to the having of the object. There is a sense of going somewhere and nowhere at the same time. There is the hope of being able to go on forever as the paper narrows and narrows until one tiny slip severs the piece and you know you’re done."
salrandolph  art  participatory  lygiaclark  walking  sensoryprosthetics  glvo  babaantropofagica  play  making  doing  conversation  audiencesofone  toys  learning  touch  rearrangement  homoludens  possibility  possibilities  uncertainty  unfinished  demystification  interaction  taboo  situationist  socialpracticeart  performance  prosthetics 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Relingos | The Brooklyn Quarterly
"Spaces survive the passage of time in the same way a person survives his death: in the close alliance between the memory and the imagination that others forge around it. They exist as long as we keep thinking of them, imagining in them; as long as we remember them, remember ourselves there, and, above all, as long as we remember what we imagined in them. A relingo—an emptiness, an absence—is a sort of depository for possibilities, a place that can be seized by the imagination and inhabited by our ­phantom-follies. Cities need those vacant lots, those silent gaps where the mind can wander freely."



"We Buy Old Books

Cities have often been compared to language: you can read a city, it’s said, as you read a book. But the metaphor can be inverted.

[painting of plan of Mexico City]

The journeys we make during the reading of a book trace out, in some way, the private spaces we inhabit. There are texts that will always be our dead-end streets; fragments that will be bridges; words that will be like the scaffolding that protects fragile constructions. T. S. Eliot: a plant growing in the debris of a ruined building; Salvador Novo: a tree-lined street transformed into an expressway; Tomás Segovia: a boulevard, a breath of air; Roberto Bolaño: a rooftop terrace; Isabel Allende: a (magically real) shopping mall; Gilles Deleuze: a summit; and Jacques Derrida: a pothole. Robert Walser: a chink in the wall, for looking through to the other side; Charles Baudelaire: a waiting room; Hannah Arendt: a tower, an Archimedean point; Martin Heidegger: a cul-de-sac; Walter ­Benjamin: a one-way street walked down against the flow.

And everything we haven’t read: relingos, absences in the heart of the city.

Guaranteed Repairs

Restoration: plastering over the cracks left on any surface by the erosion of time.
Sidewalks

Writing: an inverse process of restoration. A restorer fills the holes in a surface on which a more or less finished image already exists; a writer starts from the fissures and the holes. In this sense, an architect and a writer are alike. Writing: filling in relingos.

No, writing isn’t filling gaps—nor is it constructing a house, a building, just to fill up an empty space.

Perhaps Alejandro Zambra’s bonsai image might come closer: “A writer is a person who rubs out. . . . Cutting, lopping: finding a form that was already there.”

But words are not plants and, in any case, gardens are for the poets with orderly, landscaped hearts. Prose is for those with a builder’s spirit.

Writing: drilling walls, breaking windows, blowing up buildings. Deep excavations to find—to find what? To find nothing.

A writer is a person who distributes silences and empty spaces.

Writing: making relingos."
architecture  cities  design  spaces  space  commonplace  geography  relingos  mexicodf  df  mexico  valerialuisellu  writing  silence  via:alexismadrigal  alejandrozambra  restoration  robertobolaño  tomássegovia  gillesdeleuze  jacquesderrida  baudelaire  heidegger  hannaharendt  robertwalser  tseliot  slavadornono  walterbenjamin  emptiness  absence  possibility  possibilities  imagination  urban  urbanism  deleuze  mexicocity 
july 2014 by robertogreco
TEDxGladstone 2012 - Michael Wesch - The End of Wonder - YouTube
"New media and technology present us with an overwhelming bounty of tools for connection, creativity, collaboration, and knowledge creation – a true “Age of Whatever” where anything seems possible. But any enthusiasm about these remarkable possibilities is immediately tempered by that other “Age of Whatever” – an age in which people feel increasingly disconnected, disempowered, tuned out, and alienated. Such problems are especially prevalent in education, where the Internet (which must be the most remarkable creativity and collaboration machine in the history of the world) often enters our classrooms as a distraction device. It is not enough to merely deliver information in traditional fashion to make our students “knowledgeable.” Nor is it enough to give them the skills to learn, making them “knowledge-able.” Knowledge and skills are necessary, but not sufficient. What is needed more than ever is to inspire our students to wonder, to nurture their appetite for curiosity, exploration, and contemplation, to help them attain an insatiable appetite to ask and pursue big, authentic, and relevant questions, so that they can harness and leverage the bounty of possibility all around us and rediscover the “end” or purpose of wonder, and stave off the historical end of wonder."

[Text from: http://mediatedcultures.net/presentations/the-end-of-wonder-in-the-age-of-whatever/ ]
michaelwesch  wonder  empathy  vulnerability  papuanewguinea  education  learning  children  childhood  exploration  schools  schooling  unschooling  internet  web  deschooling  parenting  curiosity  contemplation  creativity  collaboration  anthropology  discomfort  experience  openness  empowerment  cv  connection  alienation  connectedness  possibility  possibilities  safety  fear  reflection  open 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Seeing Spaces on Vimeo
"What if we designed a new kind of "maker space" -- a space that isn't just for putting pieces together, but also for seeing and understanding a project's behavior in powerful ways? - seeing inside - seeing across time - seeing across possibilities "I think people need to work in a space that moves them away from the kinds of non-scientific thinking that you do when you can't see what you're doing -- moves them away from blindly following recipes, from superstitions and rules of thumb -- and moves them towards deeply understanding what they're doing, inventing new things, discovering new things, contributing back to the global pool of human knowledge." Presented at the EG conference on May 2, 2014. Art by David Hellman. Bret Victor -- http://worrydream.com "



"I think people need to work in a space that moves them away from the kinds of non-scientific thinking that you do when you can't see what you're doing -- moves them away from blindly following recipes, from superstitions and rules of thumb -- and moves them towards deeply understanding what they're doing, inventing new things, discovering new things, contributing back to the global pool of human knowledge."
bretvictor  makerspaces  seeing  understanding  making  invention  behavior  howwework  2014  howwelearn  design  robotics  robots  software  engineering  seeingspaces  time  possibilities  displays 
june 2014 by robertogreco
The Agony of Perfectionism - Derek Thompson - The Atlantic
"The fortress of classic economics was built on the slushy marsh of rational consumer theory. The once-popular belief that we all possess every relevant piece of information to make choices about buying fridges, TVs, or whatever, has since given way to a less commendable, but more accurate, description of buyers, which is that we basically have no freaking clue what we're doing most of the time. Prices, marketing, discounts, even the layout of store and shelves: They're all hazards strewn about the obstacle course of decision-making, tripping us up, blocking our path, and nudging us toward choices that are anything but rational.

Today, rather than consider consumers to be a monolith of reason, some economists and psychologists prefer to think of us as falling into two mood groups: maximizers and satisficers. Maximizers are perfectionists. They want the best of everything, and they want to know they have the best of everything. Satisficers are realists. They want what's good enough, and they're happy to have it.

The trouble with perfectionists is that, by wanting the best, they aspire to be perfectly rational consumers in a world where we all agree that's impossible. It's a recipe for dissatisfaction, way too much work, and even depression.

In "Maximizing Versus Satisficing: Happiness Is a Matter of Choice," published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers found that maximizers are more likely to be have regret and depression and less likely to report being happy, optimistic, or have high self-esteem.

To be a maximizer requires an "impossible" and "exhaustive search of the possibilities," that invariably ends with regret when the person realizes, after the purchase, that there might have been a better choice. This regret actually "[reduces] the satisfaction derived from one’s choice." The paradox of caring too much about having the perfect version of everything is that you wind up feel dissatisfied with all of it.

A new paper published in the Journal of Consumer Research further illuminates the onerous woe of perfectionism. Maximizers apply for more jobs, attend more job interviews, spend more time worrying about their social status, and wind up less happy, less optimistic, "and more depressed and regretful" than everybody else.

In a battery of tests designed to prime subjects to act like maximizers and satisficers, the researchers validated just about every stereotype about perfectionists: They work harder, search more deeply, and perform better in their jobs, but the emotional byproducts of their accomplishments are regret and dissatisfaction. (You might say that hard-earned success in life is wasted on the people least likely to appreciate it.)

Both papers concluded that the Internet is a briar patch of misery for maximizers. Not only does it allow them to more easily compare their lot to the sepia-toned success stories of their peers on Facebook and Instagram, but also it makes comparison shopping hell. From the first paper's discussion section:
The proliferation of options [online] raises people’s standards for determining what counts as a success, [from] breakfast cereals to automobiles to colleges to careers. Second, failure to meet those standards in a domain containing multiple options encourages one to treat failures as the result of personal shortcomings rather than situational limitations, thus encouraging a causal attribution for failure that we might call “depressogenic.” [ed: had to look that one up.]

In short: The Internet doesn't have to make you miserable. But if you insist on comparing your choices and your life to every available alternative accessible through a Google search, it will.

For consumers, this means embracing the limitations of classical economics. We don't know everything. We don't have everything. And that's okay. Pretending otherwise is, in fact, anything but rational."

[See also: http://www.swarthmore.edu/SocSci/bschwar1/maximizing.pdf ]
choice  choices  paradoxofchoice  perfectionists  satisficers  economics  rationality  reason  2014  unhappiness  happiness  depression  jobhunting  perfectionism  optimism  regret  worry  anxiety  possibilities  satisfaction  caring  self-esteem  realism  derekthompson  advertising  internet  infooverload  information  comparison 
march 2014 by robertogreco

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