Archive for September, 2005

05w36:3 9/11

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Good Reads Mailing List | 2005 week 36 number 3 (9/11)


Kodak Moments, Flashbulb Memories: Reflections on 9/11 | Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett
“The attack on the World Trade Center is said to be the most photographed disaster in history. This is a city designed to look at itself from spectacular vantage points, whether from the top of Manhattan’s signature skyscrapers, high rise apartments, and tenements, from the street, along suspension bridges, on boats along the rivers surrounding the island, and from Queens, Brooklyn, New Jersey. The attack produced a spectacle that was photographed incessantly and seen instantaneously across the globe […] It has been said that for the present to become history, fifty years had to pass. But history’s famous actors, not least of which our own American presidents, work in the present to control their historical legacy. September 11 has created the powerful sense that one is a witness to one’s own experience and obligated to record it in some way. This takes historically specific forms tailored to the events themselves, whether Oyneg Shabes, Ringelblum’s project, or the events of September 11. Both involve the responsibility for ensuring that an historical experience will be remembered. Both raise the question of what should be collected and preserved. From a museological perspective, September 11 is everywhere. How do you collect a present that is already historical? Some institutions, like the Museum of the City of New York, have taken a slow approach to creating exhibitions that deal with the disaster, preferring more distance from the events and a more selective approach to the collection of iconic artifacts for telling the story. Not surprising, the designer the Museum of the City of New York has commissioned Ralph Appelbaum, who is famous for his storytelling approach to museums, to design the exhibitions in what were to be its new quarters in the Tweed Courthouse downtown – Mayor Bloomberg has nixed that plan. This and other museums have been collecting such iconic objects as the crushed fire truck, ‘a pair of muddy boots, respirators and masks, dust from the window-sills of Battery Park City, even the clothes worn by Mayor Giuliani,’ and a twisted Venetian blind. The Museum of the City of New York has even added the Wall of Prayer to its collection, a spontaneous assemblage of images and messages on a construction site fence at one of the entrances to Bellevue Hospital. This kind of collecting is more like the time capsule–items from the present in anticipation of the future–than archeology, though archeologists are vital to the forensic effort and that evidence will become part of the historical record. For some time, Ground Zero remained a crime scene. “NOTE: PDF, 37 pages, 1.75 MB

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emailed by Timothy on Sunday 11 September 2005 @ 12:30 PM

05w36:2 Today's the Day

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Good Reads Mailing List | 2005 week 36 number 2 (today’s the day)

It being the fourth anniversary of Terrible Tuesday, I felt like I should comment here, since it’s something I’m wont to do anyway. These two articles deal with the USA. The first, published yesterday in the Globe and Mail, (and surprisingly free) is a wonderful summation of all that’s perceived to be wrong with the United States today, dealing with the usual Lefty complaints, but presented in what I think is a fair manner with an intelligence sometimes lacking as we assume everyone agrees with us and knows what were talking about.

The intro that the Globe published with it read: ‘9/11/05 The Watery hell in New Orleans shouldn’t have come as such a surprise, argues Paul William Roberts. Decades of oil-driven greed and misguided foreign policy have created a monster at odds with much of the planet and unwilling to take care of its own. The Stars and Stripes forever? Four years after the Twin Towers, it seems the superpower itself is starting to sink’.

It is an odd coincidence that the destruction of New Orleans came three weeks before the anniversary of the event which had such a profound impact on our psyches. I remember that day shattering the sense of doom that had been building as I watched North American society carelessly and recklessly consume ever greater amount of non-renewable resources for their urbane trucks, and argue about such irrelevant things as Presidential head, while letting Brittany Spears’ career get off the ground.

Then, the event caused a shift, and America went into its war mentally, paranoia growing like mushrooms around the social and ethical rot. Enron, the Iraq war, and then last year’s hope that it might all end in one humiliating defeat we could all get behind. But no, the Christians of the south prayed to their God and re-elected a man whom many in the world regularly compare to Hitler. Which is a characteristic of the hyperbole of our times, and not really accurate – for one thing, Hitler was competent. He had his evil plan and succeeded in replacing the Devil as a figure of evil for the secular age. The prayers of thousands of Muslims was answered in August, a month historically known for terrible things, and suddenly, America is spited upon, and the too-terrible-to-name administration is shown that it can’t do shit, but it can certainly let its citizens wallow in it.

So the second article looks back four years to the event and the New York artworld’s response to it with the thoughts of Arthur Danto. And I was prompted to write this lengthy intro by my own memories of finding art in the week after rather irrelevant, but I was haunted then by a quote that I’ve since been unable to track down, stating something to the effect that things like art are really important in times of tragedy to remind us that horrors aren’t the only story with regard to being human. Except this time, with the storm, I find watching CNN (since CBC is locked into a narcissistic drama) to be more compelling than any video art could ever be. As an artist, I find art totally lame right now. Danto hints at this in his article – the professional imagineers of our society cannot in the end imagine something more powerful than reality (and given how I’ve let Goodreads collect that anti-pomo arguments over the past year, I’m tempted to ask here that being disconnected from reality, how could artists not fail in the task?) But everything being as it is has taken the wind out of my sails in many ways – the catastrophe is depressing in that it was allowed to happen, and art is depressing in that it’s rather pathetic. And with the CBC on its perpetual walkabout, there isn’t really any good TV to watch, and the new season of Big Ideas on TVO hasn’t started yet. The usual end of summer blues aggravated by depressing world events … but, four years ago suggested that maybe this a new pattern, and in the end it’s a new addition to the list that prompts one to say c’est la vie. -Timothy

The flagging empire | Paul William Roberts
“In hindsight, the $14-billion price tag on the plan that had been drawn up for saving Louisiana’s coastline and the Mississippi’s delta now must look like a bargain to a Congress that has agreed to $50-billion in aid alone. It is safe to say that relocating more than a million people, along with the loss of the nation’s largest port, and the other economic consequences from Hurricane Katrina will bankrupt the United States. Or would, if anyone dared to call in the country’s debts, which now exceed any number of dollars one can write meaningfully – particularly since no one seems to know just what a trillion is anyway. It’s a known unknown. The unknown part is what happens to a nation that owes this much money: No other one has ever racked up such a tab. Even so, in the eyes of the world, the emperor stands naked. Monday’s issue of London’s The Independent noted: ‘We could be witnessing a significant moment in America. Hurricane Katrina has revealed some uncomfortable truths about the world’s richest and most powerful nation. The catastrophe in New Orleans exposed shocking inequalities – both of wealth and race – and also the relative impotence of the federal authorities when faced with a large-scale disaster. Many Americans are beginning to ask just what sort of country they are living in. There is a sense that the struggle for the soul of America is gathering pace.’ There is also suddenly a sense that the American Empire is in decline, that the only successful wars it has ever waged are the ones against the environment and its own people.”

9/11 Art as a Gloss on Wittgenstein | Arthur C. Danto
“[One of the truths I learned] was that even the most ordinary people respond to tragedy with art. Among many unforgettable experiences of the early aftermath of the event was the unprompted appearance of little shrines in fronts of doors, on windowsills and in public spaces everywhere. By nightfall on 9/11, New York was a complex of vernacular altars. In the course of that terrible day, a reporter had phoned, asking me what the art world was going to do about the attacks. I could not imagine that anyone not practically engaged in coping and helping was able to do anything except sit transfixed in front of the television screen, watching the towers burn, and of the crowds at street level running from danger and, later, trudging through smoke and detritus in search of someone they knew. I thought the last thing on anyone’s mind was art. But by day’s end the city was transformed into a ritual precinct, dense with improvised sites of mourning. I thought at the time that artists, had they tried to do something in response to 9/11, could not have done better than the anonymous shrine-makers who found ways of expressing the common mood and feeling of those days, in ways that everyone instantly understood.”

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emailed by Timothy on Sunday 11 September 2005 @ 12:07 PM

05w36:1 Katrina Audio and Video Part II

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Good Reads Mailing List | 2005 week 36 number 1 (katrina audio and video part II)

The destruction of an entire city by a storm is something I never really expected to see. I mean, I’m waiting for the nuclear bomb thing which they keep telling me is on it’s way … as on it’s way as the help that FEMA kept promising Mayor Nagin last week I suppose. Anyway, after the past five years of Bush bullshit that anyone who was paying attention could see through, the maligned ‘Liberals’ suddenly seem vindicated, once again united in a chorus of unsaid, ‘we told you so’. And what gets me is that even the people at Bush’s Broadcasting Co (aka Fox News) have joined in the chorus of criticism. The American media elite are finally as pissed off with the Bush administration and the whole status quo as the rest of the world. So onto this Goodreads – building on the net-famous sample of last weekend, I direct you to the website which is running a great roundup and video+audio archive of the reporting from New Orleans, along with some others, including what Kanye West was talking about (on the Metafilter link). – Timothy


Crooks and Liars
Highlight1 (Clip from last night’s Daily Show); Highlight 2 (Tim Russert on the Imus Show); Highlight3 (Kanye West clip again, a better one that what I sent outbefore); Highlight4 (Shepard Smith and Geraldo Rivera on Fox News)

The Rebellion of the Talking Heads | Jack Shafer
“In the last couple of days, many of the broadcasters reporting from the bowl-shaped toxic waste dump that was once the city of New Orleans have stopped playing the role of wind-swept wet men facing down a big storm to become public advocates for the poor, the displaced, the starving, the dying, and the dead. Last night, CNN’s Anderson Cooper abandoned the old persona to throttle Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., in a live interview. (See the video or read the transcript.)”

Black people loot, white people borrow | Metafilter

Barbara Bush insults Katrina survivors | Metafilter
“Barbara Bush insults Katrina survivors. Said today while visiting relief efforts at the Houston Astrodome: ‘Almost everyone I’ve talked to said we’re going to move to Houston. What I’m hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas. (Said with concern.) Everybody is so overwhelmed by all the hospitality. And so many of the peoples in the arena here, you know, they’re underprivileged anyway, so this–this (she chuckles slightly) is working very well for them.’ I’d be curious what she’d think after after living there for just a week, much less for months on end, before being sent off to somewhere even further from their homes, friends, and relatives. Please note: This woman raised our president. Did the acorn fall far from the tree?” NOTE: Audio here via crooksandliars:

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emailed by Timothy on Wednesday 07 September 2005 @ 9:18 PM

05w35:2 Audio and Video

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Good Reads Mailing List | 2005 week 35 number 2 (audio and video)

——————————————————————— CNN Weatherman | CNN
“‘But Chad … Chad … Chad … translate that for us, I don’t understand!'”From: Mon 30 August 2005 4:30am EST

Interview with Mayor Ray Nagin | WWL-AM
“‘Put a moratorium on press conferences …. don’t tell me 40,000 people are coming here! They’re not here! It’s too dogone late. Now get off your asses and let’s do something, and let’s fix the biggest godamn crisis in the history of this country!'”From: Thursday 1 September 2005, 14:05min

The Kanye West Quote | Kanye West
“‘George Bush doesn’t care about black people…'”From: Friday 2 September 2005

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emailed by Timothy on Saturday 03 September 2005 @ 9:15 PM