We had intended to explore the ominous acceleration of the Great Melt presently in play throughout the Arctic Circle, yet another voice caught our ears, and held them: that of Caroline Randall Williams. Author of the exceptional hybrid text Lucy Negro Redux, Williams addresses the issue of Confederate monuments in today’s NYT.
Excerpts below, with an interwoven image relayed from Stephen Haye’s installation, Cash Crop, about which we have more to say in a future DP.
Through a range of forms and voices, Lucy Negro Redux explores the possibility, if not the likelihood, that the “dark lady” so vibrantly brought to life in Shakespeare’s sonnets was of African descent. The book has since been adapted for the stage by the Nashville Ballet, with an informative documentary précis below:
We close with a few words from the text:
“I am a potato, a beetroot. Not a precious bird or jewel, but a dirt-dug tube. Rustle me up, rub me all over, and I will muddle your interiors with flecks of brown earth.”
On this most auspicious Juneteenth, we relay the voice of Tamara Winfrey-Harris, author of The Sisters Are Alright: Changing the Broken Narrative of Black Women in America. Excerpts from her op-ed below:
The reference to Ellison descends from his unfinished novel, Juneteenth:
“Words of Emancipation didn’t arrive until the middle of June so they called it Juneteenth. So that was it, the night of Juneteenth celebration, his mind went on. The celebration of a gaudy illusion.”
We are reminded of another Ellison quote, this one from Invisible Man:
“The clock ticked with empty urgency, as though trying to catch up with the time. In the street a siren howled.”
With that siren still howling, we close with the voice of Martha Redbone singing, No More Auction Blocks:
This week, we turn to Harvard history professor Khalil Gibran Muhammad, whose The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime and the Making of Urban America was re-released in 2019. Exposing the weaponization of crime statistics against black Americans, Muhammad meticulously documents how we arrived at this historic breaking point within the endless cycles of failed reform.
Below, excerpts from an interview on Democracy Now; images are George Floyd’s airborne words, inscribed against the sky as directed by artist Jammie Holmes, whose work we shall explore more thoroughly in a future DP.
This week, we bend an ear to the lucid voice of Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy and director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery Atlanta, home to what is in our view the most important and most powerful work of public art in North America: the National Memorial to Peace and Justice.
The entire New Yorker interview is worth a close reading; except below, with images relayed from the website of EJI.
Now comes distinguished civil rights attorney and founder of the Racial Justice Network, Nekima Levy Armstrong, in response to the police killing of George Lloyd, a response that cuts to the heart of the matter with just a few sentences of searing truth set against the brutal exercise of police power:
In the midst of a pandemic caused by a pathogen that has a particularly nasty impact on human lungs and on communities of color, we invite careful consideration of the following transcript:
Finally, outraged by this repugnant and wanton act of murder, and by all the implications and histories tangled within, we relay a statement released by Frank Chapman, Executive Director of the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression:
WHITE STRIPE FOR A MODERN-DAY LYNCHING
Among the many vulnerabilities exposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, surely the catastrophe created by the neoliberal commodification of elder care must rank among the most acute, with devastating losses suffered within nursing homes, including both residents and caregivers.
Now comes Lynn Casteel Harper, presently Minister of Older Adults at The Riverside Church in the City of New York and author of On Vanishing: Mortality, Dementia and What It Means to Disappear. Released during the early days of the pandemic as it spread throughout the United States, the book offers a luminous exploration into the gradually descending darkness of dementia, advocating for alternative elder care practices that support those afflicted to “vanish well”.
Excerpts from a recent interview below, with masks relayed from the website of William Utermohlen.
MASK WITH RED NECK
MASK WITH BLUE EYES
Now comes Naomi Klein with a lucid analysis of one possible though not inevitable outcome from the Age of Covid-19, a post-pandemic shock doctrine that would retrospectively confirm Black Mirror as an anticipatory documentary rather than an exercise in the dystopian imagination.
The entire essay is worth close consideration; a brief excerpt below, with an image (caption added by DP) from the studio of Jakub Geltner.
Thus at exactly the time when we need to connect more deeply to the realities of the natural world, while also connecting with each other in more compassionate and immediate ways, the hubristic pseudo-titans of Silicon Valley invite us into a world of perpetual surveillance, behavioral algorithms and learned helplessness.
After all this grief and suffering, they propose to accelerate the Great Acceleration to warp speed, an appropriate tempo for such a warped, narcissistic and nihilistic vision. Shaped by terror of fleeting mortality, their wish to live in an untouchable world discloses a puerile refusal to acknowledge limits. At a time when we humans need to do (and be) less and then less again, their shallow understanding insists on more always more.
This too shall crash.
Aware that the pandemic has severely attacked vulnerable communities of color, including tribal communities whose members may not have access to adequate health care nor clean water, we turn to a young voice from the Navajo Nation (Diné), Alastair Lee Bitsóí, relayed from the pages of the Navajo Times. Excerpts below, with images from the studio of Tony Abeyta.
With endless rain slowly coming to an end here in the mountains, mushroom foragers are preparing their mud boots for slogs off the beaten trail. Mushroom hunting is an excellent activity during a time of social distancing, since foragers are naturally inclined to steer clear of other humans so as not to divulge their precious discoveries.
Below, a few excerpts from an extraordinary Derrick Jensen interview with master mycologist Paul Stamets dating from 2008, yet still sounding fresh as an April morel. The images are from the hand and eye of Azuma Makoto whose stunning botanical sculptures raise our spirits every time we stumble across them in the fungal forests of the internet.
Now comes philosopher Byung-Chul Han, known for his enquiries into seemingly (and only seemingly) benign themes such as smoothness, tiredness and the culture of “liking”, with a few thoughts on panic, contagion, immunity and resistance. Excerpts below from an essay first published in El País.
Images are relayed from the virtual studio of Lawrence Weiner.