I’ve thought a lot about this title since it first appeared as a Facebook status from a friend of mine. A message like “awareness ≠ understanding ≠ acceptance” is quick to unmask privilege. It’s borderline incendiary–and for good reason. It’s a tough pill to swallow when a lot of what I feel I can do is spread awareness or promote acceptance. But my friend is right. These aren’t the same things. And they rely on different modes of expression. There’s much, much more to do besides talk, but what do we do when our principal mode of engaging others is in writing? For those in the academy, where does this place us on the sliding scale of activism?
Bringing it down to earth a bit more, what am I doing wrong? What are you doing wrong?
What are we doing right? And what can we do to make things right?
What do you think?
Sometimes I think of stupid puns that make me giggle. Then I draw them horribly because I have the patience and the technique of a four-year old.
“Civil Religion in America”
Robert N. Bellah’s provocative 1967 article on the peculiar religiosity of American society and politics.
“Behind the civil religion at every point lie biblical archetypes: Exodus, Chosen People, Promised Land, New Jersualem, and Sacrificial Death and Rebirth. But it is also genuinely American and genuinely new. It has its own prophets and its own martyrs, its own sacred events and sacred places, its own solemn rituals and symbols. It is concerned that America be a society as perfectly in accord with the will of God as men can make it, and a light to all the nations.”
As good a time as any to reflect on the rituals of American political life.
[Transcription of the final panel:] The investments with the most long-term security need time to grow. Unfortunately, they also have penalties for trying to cash in early. Younger me wants cash now, but future me wants something to look forward to…
Patience doesn’t come easy to me, but I know it’s worth it in the end.
Agents of Ishq describes itself as a multimedia project about sex, love, and desire aimed at a generation of Indian youth for whom positive views of sex and sexuality remain taboo and/or absent in their culture.
“Jewels like Flowers: About Men’s Bodies and Women’s Desires”
This is an intimate essay that mixes art and vulnerable self-reflection to reconsider how the male genitalia is culturally framed. As the editor notes, the essay represents an “artist’s entranced paintings of male nudes and her tender essay on the penis’s strange invisibility in a phallocratic culture.”
The author reflects on the strained sexuality in her parents’ relationship, and concluded that it represented one thing: making love alone.
For those who grow up in sexually-repressed cultures and circumstances, perhaps this doesn’t seem too far off. But the author continues by rejecting that model and affirming her own sexuality and her passionate curiosity for others’.
“I dream of a society where women make choices and where men are spread naked across magazines …”
“The most difficult truth of the male sex is its visibility. Whatever its status, you can not retract it, it stands there, it hangs, it exceeds.”
“Men’s sex is their proudest and most fragile part, the lyrical paraphrase of their personality, the last sentence at the bottom of a poem which makes it come into existence.”
This essay makes me think of Georges Batailles and Michael Taussig. At a surface level, their essays on “The Language of Flowers” brings to mind how we encode these objects with certain narratives and meanings. And also their writings on jewels, adornments, and the body. Perhaps there’s something more here, a thread to follow somewhere down the line…
Agents of Ishq
There are times when I can feel completely alone amidst others. I drew this doodle to reflect on a moment of togetherness that felt anything but.
Has this ever happened to you?