[-empyre-] discussion on track again

Ana Valdés agora158 at gmail.com
Thu Nov 27 17:13:06 EST 2014

For many years ago I was the founder and the editor of a cultural
magazine in Swedish, it was called Agora and we translated many texts
written by French, Italian, Spanish and German philosophers. I read
with interest the discussions between Jurgen Habermas and Dietmar
Kamper. Habermas was a strong defender of Modernity and he saw the
failures of Modernity as a consequence of Modernity not being
acomplished yet in the whole world.
Kamper, who defined himself as a postmodern, argued that the Modernity
was the hegemonic culture erasing diversity and plurality, deleting
the traces of the old cultures and the dissent voices. The total
opposite of the polyphonic society seen by Mijail Bachtin as the ideal
society, where all the voices are heard and where all the discourses
are equal worth.
The problem with all Native cultures, North or South Americans, Lapons
or Africans, is they are depleted from their original values,
subordinated the values of the white dominant race. I enjoyed very
much the reading of Gayatri Spivak "Can the Subaltern speak?", an
iconic book in the postcolonial discussion and an real aggiornamento
with Gramscis theses about the subaltern as an otusider, a periferic
figure used by the white supremacy to justify their bare existence and
keep themselves on power.
Chantal Mouffe and Ernesto Laclau added some interesting aspects in
the use of the term subaltenity as synonim of proletary.
In South America it's maybe Evo Morales, president of Bolivia, the
only one born as a Native and changing the order of the country from
subalternity to equality.

On Thu, Nov 27, 2014 at 3:00 AM, Murat Nemet-Nejat <muratnn at gmail.com> wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> "... Christina, much of our American culture also arose from the cultural extermination of the American Indians (which luckily did not occur with the black culture) rather than integrating that culture into the American mainstream..."
> Reading my previous post, I realize that a section of it may be read in a different way than how I intended. I do not mean that Native Indian culture has been exterminated. It has remained alive through ceremonies, social gatherings like powwows all over the country. I was referring to the integration of the beliefs, ceremonies into the middle class, midstream culture.
> Alan has pointed out to me the Native Indian culture has been thriving in the last fifty years. And perhaps the penetration of the sensibility has been deeper than I think. It made me think of films, the medium I am most intimate with, like Jarmousch's Dead Man and The Way of the Samurai, Powwow Highway, Smoke Signals in all of which the actor Gary Farmer, besides his part, embodies an iconic spiritual presence or Thunderheart where Val Kilmer, an FBI agent, has to face his own Native Indian identity as a dreamer of visions. The list goes on...  Recently I discovered to my utter surprise that Myrna Loy, the very essence of urban sophistication, had Native Indian roots.
> On Wed, Nov 26, 2014 at 4:52 PM, Murat Nemet-Nejat <muratnn at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Christina, much of our American culture also arose from the cultural extermination of the American Indians (which luckily did not occur with the black culture) rather than integrating that culture into the American mainstream, an integration which I think occurred in a country like Brazil. This extermination occurred in the 19th century simultaneously, if De Tocqueville is to be believed, when the seeds of a vibrant middle class was being sown.
>> I want to be clear the integration I am referring to occurs independently from the suppression of one group of another. Historically, the defeated have often left big imprints over the triumphant. The only cultural echo I see of the American Indian in the United States is in place names so many of which derive from American Indian language. I refer to one of them "Oklahoma" (as in Kafka's "Theatre of Oklahoma") in my essay "Questions of Accent."
>> On Wed, Nov 26, 2014 at 3:41 PM, Christina Spiesel <christina.spiesel at yale.edu> wrote:
>>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>>> Thank you Ana for the links to the French exhibition! Ana raised many issues and this is only a partly, and personal, reply. There is a point where grown men beheaded and little girls sexually exploited meet in the common theme of the exertion of absolute power over the bodies of others. These are demonstrations of what the group can do/get away with. And it is terrorism,  meant to create fear and compliance in others.  I think this is distinct from the far more common theme of the maintenance of patriarchal social power through control of sexual information. A very influential book for me is Walter Kendrick's The Secret Museum, Pornography in Modern Culture (1987). He makes many arguments but the most compelling for me is that erotic materials actually convey sexual information and that protected classes -- women and youths, poor men -- are kept in subjugation by denial of sexual information.  (We can see the latest iteration of this in the United States where some people are trying to put the genie back in the bottle  by trying to repress birth control, sexual education, abortion rights, etc.) Traditionally, young warriors (and athletes before competition) are taught that their prowess will be diminished if they have sex before battle. It is not hard to imagine that having sex would reaffirm life's pleasures and make one less inclined to risk life and limb in warfare. Upper classes have always had access to materials forbidden to the rest of us -- hence the "Enfer" sections of  libraries that have become the repositories of materials once held in private collections. "L'origine du Monde" was painted for Khalil Bey, Ottoman diplomat, who had a collection of erotica.  Reportedly he kept it behind a curtain which would be pulled back to show particular guests -- performance as display. Circling back, I do wonder what  particular cultural arrangements has produced ISIS. Yes, of course, official propaganda might talk about rejection of western colonialism, etc.  but what of the psychological factors local tpo that culture?  And somewhere in this discussion we might ask about DeSade who would probably assert that we are dealing with the human condition. And one more circling back -- Alan is writing about what happens to humans when their culture is going off the rails. In the case of the United States, much of our culture arose from the existence of a middle class, now under extreme threat.
>>> CS
>>> On 11/26/2014 10:02 AM, Ana Valdés wrote:
>>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>>> I was trying to find a red line in our discussion, reading what others
>>> wrote, Aneta, Monika, Murat, Alan, Johannes, Christina, Aristita,
>>> Andreas, Simon, Rustom, Alicia, Leandro, others...
>>> I go always back to Modernity. Yesterday we discussed with Alicia
>>> about Bataille and all the French writers and painters using erotic as
>>> a kind of rebellion against the power, again the etablished norms. In
>>> the French National Library there is a place called "Enfer" (Hell)
>>> where erotic texts written by Voltaire, Diderot and many other are
>>> hidden from public view. They can only be consulted and peroused by
>>> researchers with several degrees of clearing.
>>> Why are these texts so revulsive today? In a society where pornography
>>> is an industry with millions of people employed these texts are still
>>> so revulsive and must be kept secret.
>>> The same with the paintings. Gustave Courbet "L'Origine du Monde",
>>> showing the vulva of a woman, was censored by Facebook several times
>>> only a few years ago.
>>> Bear with me, I am trying to find paralleles here between beheadings
>>> and naked women. The beheadings are shown in You Tube and can be seen
>>> by anyone with a screen nearby, the real erotic seems more powerful
>>> and more dissident and must be kept from the public.
>>> Isis marriages with small girls and the selling of women as slaves are
>>> for me more horrific than the beheadings.
>>> Ana
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> empyre forum
>>> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
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