RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition who publishes zines & physical books & electronic books & music & photography & digital art & just generally whatever feels necessary to survive this deluded earth thru Rojonekku Word Fighting Arts survival systems (Version 69, establish 14 Feb 1973). Comments encouraged.

Tuesday, May 3

internet reading list of late

(triplicates of links that occupied my mind at *work* recently)

The Digital Afterlife of Lost Family Photos by Teju Cole
Buying up old photographs at junk stores has long been a part of art school projects, or zine making, or an activity part of the brain of anybody wired up in that old-fashioned post-modern (lolol) mindframe of "everything is art" when you derive new meanings from old shit. Internet, however, has complicated that because you end up having pictures as part of "your art" that are actual human beings who have actual human meaning to others, who then end up seeing it. That doesn't necessarily bother me, but I think there's a respect that should be used. This article by well-known internet thunkpiecer Teju Cole, touches on that, but maybe not as deep as could've been touched upon. Still though, in an age where everybody simultaneously believes that: A) they can re-appropriate everything they find, and B) they own intellectual property over whatever derivative they appropriate from it.
I take a lot of pictures, but have mostly refrained from taking pictures of people, mostly because I am uncomfortable with the notion I in some way have any ownership over pictures of somebody else. I've got a couple new projects in mind which will force me out of that comfort zone though, and I've been contemplating how I would apply concepts of verbal consent to taking pictures of people, and how I'd want to share what I end up getting from taking pictures of them. (Understand off the jump, I make no money off art to speak of, so there's no Richard Prince factor here... just some dumbass taking photographs who doesn't appreciate the othering of others in most photography, especially since I could've easily fell under othering categories during large swaths of my own life.)
There's a whole gentrification/cultural appropriation factor to art projects involving old pictures once they become digital entities, because generally it's people with access to art/photography world benefitting off *their art* while the people pictured, who make up more than a small amount of the significance of the project, often get nothing. A photographer I've followed in recent years, Chris Arnade, caught a lot of flack for having bought people he took pics of drugs or giving them money, because it broke the photographic rules of documentary, that you were supposed to somehow be removed from the person, simply documenting their existence. But how the fuck do you do that when you are sitting in a drug hotel room with two other people, having talked to them enough to know them well enough for them to be comfortable even letting you into that world?
In our house, on the refrigerator, we keep a copy of that famous Dorothea Lange photo of the Dust Bowl mother looking all stressed the fuck out. My ol' lady put it up, to remember that shit could be worse. I found out in some other article a year or two back that the lady in that pic wasn't even at her bottom rung. They had a flat tire and she was sitting on the side of the road with her two kids. Dorothea Lange apparently promised to give them copies of the photographs or something and never did. And then became famous off the image.
None of us live in a vacuum, and that's even more true in digital era where all our old bullshit might resurface if the clouds shake right. That mostly seems to be applied negatively to some, othering them as counter to digital conventions, but it should also apply upwardly as well. You can't own every stupid fucking tweak and filter you put on other people's lives. But this is America - we don't respect people, we respect property, so Digital Artists creating new *genius* *content* from old shit (that is actually other people's real lives) will always get the props. But intellectual property remains an oxymoron to me.

Pork Life by Todd Kliman
This is such a weird article. Like, it's a fine read, and entertaining I guess, but a deep dive into gluttonous and privileged consumption of pork. Now for full clarification, I used to raise pigs, and in the process got to know the intelligence level of pigs. This combined with a job in medical research which allowed me access to tons of scientific articles led me to learn the genetic proximity of pigs and people. (That's why they be putting pig hearts in humans.) Those two factors (along with reading A LOT of old Sufi Islamic philosophy) combined into me swearing off pork forever. So reading this thing is like insight into what seems to me to be strange human devilry.
The highpoint of this is "III. Bacon Cheeseburger" because with my first two pigs, I actually made bacon. You know what I learned making bacon? It is the longest, most time intensive, and wasteful activity both in terms of man-hours and animal life just to result in a few slivers of salty ass flesh. After making my own bacon I came to the conclusion bacon should actually cost like $150 a pound if it was made in any way conscientiously (if killing distant kin animals is okay, which might be questionable on the morality scale too, but I ain't a vegetarian so I won't make that argument), so all this artisanal bacon and bacon topped cupcakes and hipster bullshit bacon boxes that are supposed to be "okay" forms of bacon somehow not tied to Big Pig have got to be bullshit. They've got to be. There's no way they're not.
People love bacon though, and honestly that shit freaks me out. Like I try to go through my days glossing over everything with this underlying mantra of hope that we're all just humans caught up in our little bullshit, but ultimately we're all trying to survive life and want everybody to at least be okay but hopefully even happy. But then I see some motherfuckers being happy as shit about bacon. About fucking bacon. And that loose thread gets pulled by my brain and the reality of predator drones and tribal nationalism and tribal politics even within concept of American nationalism and just general mean, hateful nature of humanity just comes out.
So yeah, this essay is like bacon - a long process, salty as fuck, but perhaps tasty, and yet ultimately unnecessary and pure devilry. So enjoy.

What Happened to Worcester? at New York Times
At first when Trump looked unstoppable, there were a slew of "Who the Fuck Are All These Dumbasses Voting for Trump?" articles. We have lately moved into the second wave, where people analyze the broken American Dream, how shit used to be compared to how it is now, and how that probably feeds the Trump movement. And I'm sure it does. My neighbors are a couple and their young adult son. Both son and father work labor, for the father that means side jobs both weekend days driving livestock or working at a farm. They raise cattle for selling as livestock, as much as their three acres will allow. And they are always broke. And they fly confederate flags. They're not bad people, not at all, but they were fermented in a different world. Democrats abandoned these people decades ago, because they didn't need them. Republicans whispered sweet subliminal racisms in their ears for decades, encouraged and enabled their worst habits, but have now suddenly - on the heels of the first black President - decided that the best business move for the Republican party is to not be so subliminally racist (kind of). As a business move, to maintain support, Republicans have now abandoned these people that they basically helped make so monstrous, because they no longer need them either (or so they think).
I don't say any of this to excuse people being narrow-minded or prejudiced. I say this to point out if you made a giant Venn diagram of our American system, no matter how much you broke down the circles demographically, a whole fucking lot of us would intersect in the FUCKED part smack in the middle of the diagram. These people are definitely in that same part. I will always be of the mind people who are fucked, so long as they are divided, will be conquered.
I think it goes without saying the America known by the grandparents in this article is no longer there. I know my maternal grandfather's parents were straight from Poland, went through Ellis Island, and raised their family in New Jersey. My grandfather wandered nomadically after naval duties, and still somehow managed to build a good life - owning a home, then building a new one to move into, then buying a farmhouse to retire in, having to sell one to finalize the other, but he died with cash in the mattress and enough left to take care of my grandmother for the most part until her death.
I'm not gonna have that, not even close. And the weird thing is I'm way better off than I should've been. Like I've climbed the fucking pyramid scam good as fuck, to where my children are at least not nearly as fucked as I was starting out. But the environment that allowed my grandfather to have money left at death, or even retire, is not the same one I live in. If I retire, that shit ain't gonna be grand at all - it's gonna basically mean I can stop driving to work and stay home, and if I tighten my belt and don't live too long, there'll still be groceries in the cupboard when I die.
Applying the racial aspect to it, or more appropriately xenophobia because often it's about immigrants when the monsters that were created start thinking about how they don't have jobs, they think of immigrants. But this country always had immigrants. That's not any different than it ever was. There just ain't shit happening to keep everybody occupied. If all of us benefitted off the technological advances, and got to kick back and enjoy the early retirement, with at least groceries in the cupboard, that'd be one thing. But we ain't getting that. We're getting told we should've gotten more education, been more marketable, been more skilled. It's our fault our lives suck.
I don't know man, it's a giant fucking mess, and this Presidential election is only going to make it worse, regardless of which evil gets anointed the more acceptable evil branch of evil bullshit. But whatever. Hopefully more and more of the FUCKED will realize our shared spaces on the grand Venn diagram of nowadays America, and we can start trying to keep each other okay. On the large scale, I don't have much hope for that, because the bureaucracy is immense, and corrupt, and benefits by maintaining FUCKED, but in the little pockets, where people actually talk to each other beyond the fog of manufactured divisions, I hope it will get better.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When I first found out the real history behind the Dorothea Lange photo, it killed it for me.
Bacon = human privilege.
The meritocracy myth making us all feel like shit.