Book-Text-Read-Zines · Social/Politics

Class in America: The Fault Lines

From “trailer trash” to “the one percent,” the language of class tends to evoke divisions both stark and simplistic. It’s easy to discern the outward differences between a single mother living in squalor and a socialite in her Park Avenue penthouse. But the lived experience of class takes place on far more fractured terrain. The way we understand our own class—and determine the class of others—is as much about yesterday’s legacy as today’s money, as much about perception as reality.

In this special issue of Guernica, the second of four made possible through your generous support to our Kickstarter campaign, we offer stories beyond the sleeping beast that is the Occupy Movement. As with our previous theme issues, we hope to start conversations, not end them, exploring how class lives in our minds and manifests in imperceptible and unexpected ways. Class lines are fault lines: politically fraught and personally subjective, actual and imagined.

In this issue:

Features:

Margo Jefferson: Scenes From a Life in Negroland

Luis Alberto Urrea: Ghosts in the Land of Plenty

Rachel Riederer: The Teaching Class

Ann Neumann: How the Other Half Dies

Jessica Pishko: The Price of Freedom

Lauren Quinn: Which Side Are You On, Girl?

Interviews:

Servings of Small Change: Meara Sharma interviews Jane Black and Brent Cunningham

Going Through Customs: Hillary Brenhouse interviews Cristina Ibarra

Talking Clean and Acting Dirty: Katherine Rowland interviews Robert Bullard

Art:

Alex Zafiris: Sight Lines

Fiction:

Tracy O’Neill: Who Can Shave Thirteen Times a Day

Tracey Rose Peyton: More Than This

Poetry:

Abigail Carl-Klassen: Temporary People

Tommy Pico: Thems

Via Guernica. Read this Special Issue HERE

Philosophy · Social/Politics · Technology

The Drone Philosopher

From the thumbnail headshot accompanying his essay in the Times, “the drone philosopher,” as I’ve begun to think of him, appears to be in his late twenties, or a boyish 30. In an oddly confessional-style first paragraph, he recalls what it was like to watch the second Iraq War from his college dorm television. He has clean-shaven Ken-doll looks and a prominent squarish jaw, recalling the former Republican vice-presidential candidate and representative from Wisconsin’s First Congressional District, Paul Ryan. I doubt the drone philosopher would be flattered by the comparison. The tone of his article makes him out to be a thoughtful liberal, more interested in weighing complexities than in easy solutions, simultaneously attracted by and wary of power, not unlike the commander in chief he hopes will one day read his papers.

I can make out a bit of wide-striped collegiate tie, a white collar, and the padded shoulders of a suit jacket in the photograph. I know I’m being unfair, but I don’t trust his looks. Since Republicans have become so successful at branding themselves the party of white men, I now suspect that any white guy in a suit may harbor right-wing nationalist tendencies, much as the CIA’s rules governing drone strikes have determined that groups of “military age” men in certain regions of Pakistan and Yemen may be profiled as terrorists. Even more unkindly, I catch myself thinking the drone philosopher’s portrait looks like it was taken for the high school debate club he surely belonged to. Maybe that was where — for competitions in dim auditoria from state to regional to national level, prepping in a series of carbon-copy cheap motels, four to a room — he first learned to be rewarded for making audacious arguments. It was like a job or a sport. Maybe there was one particularly formative debate, “Resolved: The United States was right to use the atomic bomb against Japanese civilians.” He would have parsed this proposition into a value, such as “Right Action” or “Justice,” made up of a checklist of criteria: saving American lives, the primary but not sole duty of the deciders; weighing potential lives lost or saved on both sides when contrasted with the alternative policy of full-scale invasion of Japan.

Excerpt from an article written by MARCO ROTH at n+1. Continue THERE

Human-ities · Social/Politics

Fear of a Black President

As a candidate, Barack Obama said we needed to reckon with race and with America’s original sin, slavery. But as our first black president, he has avoided mention of race almost entirely. In having to be “twice as good” and “half as black,” Obama reveals the false promise and double standard of integration.

The irony of President Barack Obama is best captured in his comments on the death of Trayvon Martin, and the ensuing fray. Obama has pitched his presidency as a monument to moderation. He peppers his speeches with nods to ideas originally held by conservatives. He routinely cites Ronald Reagan. He effusively praises the enduring wisdom of the American people, and believes that the height of insight lies in the town square. Despite his sloganeering for change and progress, Obama is a conservative revolutionary, and nowhere is his conservative character revealed more than in the very sphere where he holds singular gravity—race.

Part of that conservatism about race has been reflected in his reticence: for most of his term in office, Obama has declined to talk about the ways in which race complicates the American present and, in particular, his own presidency. But then, last February, George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old insurance underwriter, shot and killed a black teenager, Trayvon Martin, in Sanford, Florida. Zimmerman, armed with a 9 mm handgun, believed himself to be tracking the movements of a possible intruder. The possible intruder turned out to be a boy in a hoodie, bearing nothing but candy and iced tea. The local authorities at first declined to make an arrest, citing Zim­mer­man’s claim of self-defense. Protests exploded nationally. Skittles and Arizona Iced Tea assumed totemic power. Celebrities—the actor Jamie Foxx, the former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm, members of the Miami Heat—were photographed wearing hoodies. When Rep­resentative Bobby Rush of Chicago took to the House floor to denounce racial profiling, he was removed from the chamber after donning a hoodie mid-speech.

Excerpt of an article written by Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic. Continue HERE

Book-Text-Read-Zines · Human-ities · Social/Politics

The Rich And The Rest Of Us: A Poverty Manifesto



Award-winning broadcaster Tavis Smiley and one of the nation’s leading democratic intellectuals, Cornel West, challenge us to examine our assumptions about poverty in America. The Rich and the Rest of Us is the next step in the journey that began with “The Poverty Tour: A Call to Conscience.” Smiley and West’s 18-city bus tour gave voice to the plight of impoverished Americans of all races, colors, and creeds.

Book Intro PDF HERE

Via The Rich And The Rest Of Us

Human-ities · Social/Politics

America the Possible: A Manifesto, Part I

The following transformations hold the key to moving to a new political economy. Consider each as a transition from today to tomorrow.

• Economic growth: from growth fetish to post-growth society, from mere GDP growth to growth in human welfare and democratically determined priorities.
• The market: from near laissez-faire to powerful market governance in the public interest.
• The corporation: from shareholder primacy to stakeholder primacy, from one ownership and motivation model to new business models and the democratization of capital.
• Money and finance: from Wall Street to Main Street, from money created through bank debt to money created by government.
• Social conditions: from economic insecurity to security, from vast inequities to fundamental fairness.
• Indicators: from GDP (“grossly distorted picture”) to accurate measures of social and environmental health and quality of life.
• Consumerism: from consumerism and affluenza to sufficiency and mindful consumption, from more to enough.
• Communities: from runaway enterprise and throwaway communities to vital local economies, from social rootlessness to rootedness and solidarity.
• Dominant cultural values: from having to being, from getting to giving, from richer to better, from separate to connected, from apart from nature to part of nature, from transcendent to interdependent, from today to tomorrow.
• Politics: from weak democracy to strong, from creeping corporatocracy and plutocracy to true popular sovereignty.
• Foreign policy and the military: from American exceptionalism to America as a normal nation, from hard power to soft, from military prowess to real security.

This is an excerpt from an essay written by James Gustave Speth at ORION. Read HERE

Art/Aesthetics · Blog-Sites · Events · Performativity

America’s Got No Talent

“America’s Got No Talent” is a web-based software project by Jonah Brucker-Cohen and Katherine Moriwaki that synthesizes and processes the steady stream of Twitter feeds for several American reality television shows such as “American Idol,” “America’s Got Talent,” “America’s Next Top Model,” and “X Factor US” among others in this genre. The project highlights when and how these shows gain popularity through social media and followers. When tweets are sent, they are dynamically displayed along with the bias for each program which is based on retweets from followers as well as fans. The visualization takes the form of a horizontal bar graph in the shape of an American flag that updates dynamically. Each show’s virtual presence grows in size based on the amount of attention it receives from social media users worldwide, creating a measurement meter that ranks popular media on their social exposure, rather than their credit as viable media sources.

Commissioned for the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2012 for Artport, with support provided by Jeremy Levine.

Via Whitney Museum of American Art

Human-ities · Philosophy · Social/Politics · Theory

What Friedrich Nietzsche Did to America

In 1889, when Friedrich Nietzsche suffered the mental collapse that ended his career, he was virtually unknown. Yet by the time of his death in 1900 at the age of 55, he had become the philosophical celebrity of his age. From Russia to America, admirers echoed his estimation of himself as a titanic figure who could alter the course of history: “I am by far the most terrible human being that has existed so far; this does not preclude the possibility that I shall be the most beneficial.” His origins were humble for the role. The son of a small-town Lutheran minister, he steeped himself in classical literature while growing up in eastern Germany. When he was 24, he secured a professorship in Basel, Switzerland, and a few years later published his first book, “The Birth of Tragedy.” Against the common view of the ancient Greeks as the epitome of serene equipoise, Nietzsche emphasized the “Dionysian” excess and frenzy that complemented the “Apollonian” virtues of clarity and repose. The book’s success was limited, and its author was mocked by one leading classicist as an atavist run amok who should “gather tigers and panthers about his knees, but not the youth of Germany.”

Written by ALEXANDER STAR at The New York Times. Continue HERE