On this birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., celebrated during times of racist violence and white supremacist insurrection unleashed in the name of “American greatness”, we give full attention to one of MLK’s most powerfully transformative sermons: The Drum Major Instinct, delivered at Ebenezer Baptist Church on February 4, 1968.
We urge close, deep listening to the entirety of the sermon; excerpts transcribed below.
We also take note of an op-ed in the Washington Post written by MLK III in opposition to the ruthless executions staged by a racist & omnicidal thanatocracy during its own dying days, with an excerpt relayed below:
Today, a man named Brandon Bernard was executed for a a crime committed when he was eighteen, in circumstances clouded by numerous unanswered questions. Appeals for clemency fell on deaf ears.
Now comes the honorable Bryan Stevenson, a winner of this year’s “Right Livelihood” award, for his tireless work exposing, documenting and fighting against the injustices of the Carceral State. Below, his acceptance speech for the award.
Images are from the most powerful work of public art in North America: the museum and memorial created by Stevenson’s Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama.
In a fascinating essay in the most recent New York Review of Books, Fintan O’Toole refers to the rise of “zombie politics”, and to Trumpism as akin to a necromantic death cult. Consistent with his observations, we note that five federal executions have been scheduled between now and the way overdue termination of this relentlessly omnicidal administration.
The shallow promises of Social Media, to connect everyone to everybody while feeding egos and pumping addictive endorphins, are nothing but camouflage for the vast data mine that is both social heart and economic engine for Surveillance Capitalism.
The varied platforms of Social Media also incubate and accelerate a detachment of American political life from the world of verifiable facts and evidence, with potentially catastrophic results, as evidenced by the increasingly aberrant outbursts from King Tweet (Exhibit A, below).
Below a few lucid remarks from political historian and distinguished essayist Jill Lepore, in an interview following the publication of her recent book about the Simulmatics Corporation, an early probe into the commodification of human subjectivity via the data mine.
In this time of divisive agony, the three simple words of our title are worthy of sustained meditation.
The people, united.
For example: The people, united against Climate Emergency; the people, united against Covid-19; the people, united against White Supremacism. Yet here we are, a country of highly armed splinters, awaiting combustion into a firestorm of violence.
Meanwhile, south of our borders in Chile, we are witnessing an exemplary embodiment of the creative potential of a people, united. By an overwhelming majority, Chileans have initiated a process to replace their draconian state-of-emergency Pinochet-era Constitution with a new system of governance that will more accurately reflect the needs and dreams of — un pueblo, unido.
Now comes Chilean-American Ariel Dorfman writing in a recent essay, suggesting that possibly we might take up such a challenge ourselves, and conceive a more perfect union as our body politic spins and heaves.
Brief excerpts below, with an intervening link to an extraordinary video that we recommend watching at least once a day between now and the end of November.
Thanks to all who responded with such sacred rage and support for last week’s post, in which we amplified the voice of Amazonian indigenous leader Nemonte Nenquimo; this week we bend an ear to another voice that echoes Nenquimo in its urgency, yet from a different location in the Global South: Australia, following the horrific 2019-2020 burn season, known as “Black Summer”.
My work explores the socio-economical, cultural and political practices that intervene on, and alter the form of contemporary natural landscapes around us. Subject both of science and art, the landscape functions both as a mirror and as a lens: in it we see the space we occupy and ourselves as we occupy it. With my work I abstract and re-interpret landscapes engaging in an open-ended investigation of transferring the physical experience of a territory away from the locus of its original existence via discrete or bold interventions.
My aim is to confront the public with nature’s omnipresence, creating new spaces of sensorial and social experiences. Intending to provide the audience with an active role in my work I use a variety of techniques and media, such as installations, performances, workshops and public art, to better address the needs of each idea. The heterotopic landscapes I create constitute places of memories in which the emotions of single individuals become inevitably part of a collective experience.
This week, we bend our ears once again to the voice of esteemed elder Joanna Macy, in passages brought to our attention by DP correspondent Janet Coster, as found by her within Bill Plotkin’s Nature and the Human Soul. Images of Smithson’s drawings in the conceptual vicinity of Spiral Jetty added by DP.