Month: January 2019

“Visible Minority:” Confronting Race in White North America

Ragini Tharoor Srinivasan wrote about her experiences as a South Asian woman in the United States. She wrote about the exoticism of her name, her hair, her body. And she wrote about understanding race when her little brother kicked the back of a seat on a plane when they were kids, and how her father obsequiously apologized when the angry white man in that seat turned around and yelled at her brother. And she wrote about the de-centring experience of being not white in white North America. Granted, things are changing quickly. Two of Canada’s three largest cities, Toronto and Vancouver, actually have minority white populations. And Montréal, Canada’s second largest city, will hit that mark in the next decade. Something like a third of the population of Canada is comprised of visible minorities, both Canadian- and foreign- born. In the United States, around 44% of the population is comprised of visible minorities, both American- and foreign- born. What’s more, 50% of children under the age of 5 in the US are visible minorities. The times they are a’changing, but they haven’t changed yet. The simple fact of a ‘visible minority’ category presupposes too many things for my tastes, one of which is that the category is homogenous. It isn’t, nor should we expect it to be. Consequently, the majority and dominant culture in both countries remains white: an...

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Swervedriver — Future Ruins

Swervedriver Future Ruins Dangerbird Swervedriver came of age in the great early 90s era of British shoegaze music.  Originally hailing from Oxford, from whence the greatest of the shoegazers, Ride, came, Swervedriver relocated to London early on.  In all honesty, though, they were never really a shoegazer band, rather, they were a rock’n’roll band that had some shoegaze elements, particularly in tracks like ‘Rave Down’ from their 1991 début, Raise, and ‘Duress’ from 1993’s Mezcal Head.  The latter introduced a much harder edge to their music, more grinding and chugging guitars and bass.  And the rest of their 90s output saw the band gently move towards a more basic rock’n’roll sound before they split following 1998’s 99th Dream.  They were burned out from the record/tour/record process, to say nothing of the heavy drug culture that developed around their studio, Bad Earth, in Farringdon, London. Frontman Adam Franklin bounced around here and there, did some solo work, another band called Toshack Highway, and a few other things.  He and the other remaining founding member, guitarist Jimmy Hartridge and bassist Steve George and drummer Jez Hindmarsh (both of whom joined for Mezcal Head) decided to reform in 2008 with a well-received performance at Coachella.  This led to more touring, which led to more touring, which led to being on Fallon, which lead to the first reunion album, 2014’s most excellent I Wasn’t Born to Lose...

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Eduardo Pavez Looks Askance at “Roma”

In Spanish, Entfremdung (alienation) was simultaneously translated as “alienación” and “enajenación”. While these terms are very close in meaning, “enajenación” is specifically related to emotions, for it is a person or collective’s transitory loss of reason or identity caused by an intense state of fear, anger or pain. This may serve to generate a spatial metaphor of a central “me” and a secondary peripheral “me” split apart by the overwhelming emotion. I know the old center-periphery concept has been replaced by cooler academic terminology nowadays, but allow me to use it with the enajenación process, understood in this particular...

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David Brooks, Meet Josiah Royce, Part I

David Brooks keeps pulling wabbits out of his hat—he keeps invoking writers, artists, and theorists who seem, at first glance, to stand athwart his conservative political agenda. But, having now combed through the entire Brooks archive, I can see that his that agenda boils down to a form of “personalism” (on which he wrote a previous column). This was the interwar creed conceived by its founders and followers as a “third way” between capitalism and communism, as a path toward social democracy.  Emmanuel Mounier, Jacques Maritain, Gabriel Marcel, and Reinhold Niebuhr were among the figures associated with this “third...

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Ben Streeter Sees the Neoliberalism in Helen DeWitt’s “Some Trick”

Some Trick, the new book of stories from Helen DeWitt, is merely a sixth as many pages as the final volume of My Struggle. But what it lacks in girth it makes up for in inventiveness. The best story in this the first collection of short stories by the author of The Last Samurai and Lightning Rods is “Entourage.” Like many of the collected stories, which range in date of composition from 1985, when DeWitt was a student at Oxford, to the present, it is the portrait of an idiosyncratic personality. It begins with an eccentric man who flies...

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