Tag: drop the enlightenment

a whole new [non-homogenous] world

image found here
image found here

[CN: colonialism, anti-black racism, white supremacy]

The more i think about the so-called New Atheists the less i think of them. It’s not just the mean-spirited inanity of attacking all systems of belief while knuckling down to the altar of Dr. Dawkins, or promoting the same racist imperialism as the religious right — a secular crusade — the hypocrisy is even broader. The secular modern world chucked off religion and took on another belief system that is no less arbitrary; yet part of its appeal is that we take it as nonreligious. Whether it’s theology or economics or scientific racism, the fundamental desire is the same: for a definition of human, an ordering system for reality’s chaos, and a knowledge to safeguard against the inferior stock.

Sylvia Wynter’s breathtaking essay “1492: A New World View” opens with a dualism. The Columbian Exchange set the germs for globalization and the interrelatedness of our current existence — that much is beyond doubt, but how should we feel about it? The white people of the rich global north call it a triumph, the indigenous of the world call it an atrocious nightmare that hasn’t ended. The former wants to carry on the torch and liberate the earth’s people from their respective stone ages and idolatries; the latter wants to bring and end to history. Wynter ends up suggesting that both positions, like the reality of globalization, are beyond dispute, that they are two sides of the Janus face that is the modern situation. And by her sharp prose and analytical horsepower this doesn’t come off as wishy-washy liberal humping; indeed liberal humanism is squarely in the cross-hairs.

In this piece Wynter offers a new kind of framework for confronting this violent history, one that tries to take the concerns of all of humanity into account. To do so she tells the story of two revolutions in the Western intellect, from Copernicus to Foucault, in 50 pages of dense critical language and a masterful handling of poetic images. It’s a hell of a journey.

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a pomo parable

Evan Dara’s THE LOST SCRAPBOOK pp. 72-175

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This next part of the book is quite long but fast by virtue of its odd formatting. It’s a single narrative block which delivers the speech of a pirate broadcast that segues into an odd story set in a dense forest. By the end i think we’ve developed some of the ideas raised in the last section in a more abstract way, especially regarding the ways our social/economic climate keeps us isolated from each other, and the possibilities for communication or establishing some kind of connectedness.

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a vietnamese feast — The Book of Salt by Monique Truong

image found here
image found here

[CN: Colonialism, racism]

The sting of salt in the sea, or on the breeze. The salt in the kitchen, in sweat, in tears, seminal fluids. This fabulous debut novel was recommended to me by a college friend. She regretfully informed me that it’s a cis male-centered narrative, but its treatment of gay and colonial experience puts it leagues ahead of the normie material ive been going to lately, as far as that sort of thing goes (i definitely need more recs from her in the future; her reading palate is a lot more decolonized than mine).

i was enthusiastic bc it’s an historical novel that involves Vietnam and Gertrude Stein, or GertrudeStein as she goes in the text, and Paris in the 30s. It turned out to be an incredibly sumptuous weaving of good food, intense intimacy, loss and longing. It was the kind of prose where certain paragraphs could work on their own as a poem — the membranes between the words and their meanings become porous. Albert Camus once remarked on the novel as being philosophy conveyed thru images. In this book the nonlinear narrative and ruminative tone bring all of its themes into a congealed whole.

So a lot of this blog is gonna come off as raving, as THE BOOK OF SALT offered for me a lot of really exciting possibilities for contemporary historical fiction. It taps into frontier historical concepts, and its style moves away somewhat from transparent naturalism while not being an Ultra-Difficult PoMo text. It’s also great if you’re interested in a same-sex romance novel without any sex, yet exploding with eros. It’s in the language.

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reading “the history of white people” by nell irvin painter part 02

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[CN: discussions of colonial gaze, sex slavery/trafficking, patriarchy, white supremacy, anti-black racism]

Painter’s history begins in the time of ancient greece, which may be striking to some, since white people didn’t get made until the 18th century. nevertheless, the earliest peoples with light skin lived in societies that flanked the greek empire, and the knowledge produced on these folks by the likes of herodotus contain the germs of the origin myths that sustain much of contemporary white nationalism.

this part of her discussion focuses on white slavery, which sustained western civilizations for a millenium before the trans atlantic slave trade. the anti-blackness that would have the world agree on Africa as the slavable continent and entrench itself into our government is gaining. but in this section, Painter focuses on the experiences of white women under slavery and how this shaped western patriarchal values, as well as orientalism — another crucial logic of white supremacy.

after all, in her introduction, Painter expresses her concerns with the distribution of wealth, power, and beauty.

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reading “the history of white people” by nell irvin painter part 01

The_history_of_white_people_bookcover

[CN: white supremacy, slavery, erasure]

why i am hyped for reading this book:

  • i think im coming out of a extra bad 6-month downturn plus a small breakdown bc of my depression, and im getting the enthusiasm to read stuff again.
  • nell irvin painter is a black woman historian of the south
  •  this text is the kind of epic longue duree presentation that tickles me personally; and what better subject to learn about right now than the constructed concept of whiteness (which i dont bother separating from white supremacy these days)
  • ive only read the introduction so far and it’s already exciting
  • im ready to get schooled in premodern history which i dont know shit about
  • im ready to have the lingering anti-blackness/racialized nuances in white people/ahistorical assumptions about race that are still in my head challenged

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the toxic legacy of european enlightenment c/o vandana shiva

[CN: (neo)colonialism, gender violence]

Bacon (1561-1626) was the father of modern science, the originator of the concept of the modern research institute and industrial science, and the inspiration behind the Royal Society. His contribution to modern science and its organization is critical. From the point of view of nature, women and marginal groups, however, Bacon’s programme was not humanly inclusive. It was a special programme benefiting the middle class, European, male entrepreneur through the conjunction of human knowledge and power in science.

Vandana Shiva, Staying Alive

Continue reading “the toxic legacy of european enlightenment c/o vandana shiva”