I don’t think Richter’s paintings represent Ulrike Meinhof’s life and experience. The entire October series depicts Meinhof in death, save for the Youth Portrait of her. Through Richter’s paintings, it appears that her contribution to the revolution was merely through her death. Reality, then, is severely skewed in the series, because the reality is that she contributed much more than just her death. But maybe Richter meant to evoke this disorientation; through the blurry nature of his paintings, Richter evokes a sense of confusion and despair, frustration towards the sensationalization, perhaps, of Meinhof as a martyr or a victim. With the photographic aspect, Richter in each of his paintings presents a consistent reminder of what it is exactly we must remember, and by blurring the paintings he challenges the face reality of the painting for the viewer.
! – German media played a large role in shaping the events of this revolution. Instead of merely relaying facts of the revolution, the media was driven largely by opinion pieces, as seen in Meinhof’s writings. However, there was no central truth to be told; media was sensationalizing violence as individual events, and not overtly connected to a singular purpose, which made revolutionary causes perhaps less obvious. It’s ironic to me because the RAF was considered to be a terrorist group, and yet The Baader-Meinhof Complex movie sensationalized the acts of these terrorists, making them appear to have a noble cause/they were the victims, and yet emphasizes the German media’s sensationalization at the time of the terrorism.
?- Meinhof supported democratic ideals for students, saying that if the only way for them to express their opinion was on the streets, then they should utilize that. But isn’t inflicting violence and punishing those with opposing ideals the opposite of democratic? What is Meinhof’s working definition of democracy?
In our discussion, Elizabeth and I saw a stark difference not between the story told in Requiem but rather how it was told. Anderson’s translation took a very personal and empathetic approach as it told the story from what read as an internally controlled environment. In more poetic terms with more vivid imagery, you read the poem from the perspective of the mother and empathize with her humanity. Anderson’s poem reads more like a novel – descriptive and story-oriented- whereas Thomas’s translation is more historical and analytical. To elaborate, while Thomas tells the same story as Anderson, it reads more as though it is from an outside perspective describing events. One reads the events but is not as drawn to empathize with them. For these reasons we favored the Anderson translation.
! – In order to avoid censorship by Russian authority, many poets published their works abroad.
? – What is the benefit of publishing abroad if your intended audience cannot see your work?
One thing I noticed is how Snow makes the distinction between scientists and litterateurs is that scientists believe that there is “plenty in our condition which is not fate”, as he says on page 6. This means that scientists addresses that which we humans can control and litterateurs focus on that which we cannot control and trying to make sense of why we cannot control it.
On page 8, Snow says that “literature changes more slowly than science”, which I found myself disagreeing with. What does he mean when he says it “changes”? How does it change? In the words of Unit 2, does he mean that paradigms are rare in literature, and that conceptual schemes are more common? Does science have an easier time completely overthrowing foundational assumptions than literature? I think when making the claim of polarity between science and literature it is important to make specific distinctions so as to emphasize the extreme contrasts.
On Tuesday, January 28, Bryan Stevenson came to speak to the Davidson community about his work as a lawyer for those on death row. I thought that his speech was incredibly inspiring. Not only did Mr. Stevenson address important issues that affect American people, he talked about the issues with refreshing honesty. Contrasting with Raymond Santana, whose speech was a little more vague about the solutions to false convictions, Mr. Stevenson provided realistic and specific goals that each of us can strive to, including phrases like “confirm their dignity, confirm their humanity” and talking about how in order to solve and learn about a problem, we must come in close proximity to it. He did not deny that the racist systems put in place in America are complex and nuanced, and countered that notion by saying that hope is built on recognizing those complexities, because it means that we have a firm grasp on the situation and therefore can start on the path to a solution. He talked about how in order to implement long-lasting change, we must face things that are uncomfortable and engage with them. That way, we understand the problems in real time and will actively work to solve them or at least to improve them.
What really fascinated me about Ethnic Notions was the idea of the “Mammy” in popular culture and media. The Mammy is a short, larger black woman who ran the household in place of the white wife. She is sweet to the white children she takes care of and is harsh to her own children. Essentially, she is the antithesis of the white wife; strong and independent, which were typically unfavorable traits to have in a woman. Not only that, the depiction of Mammy was supposed to demote African Americans and present to white audiences an image of savagery. As a result, these depictions served multiple purposes in the oppression of blacks and the building of a complex and subtle form of racism. The documentary serves to point out just that; through forms of art and media, we appear to consume the content at face value, but really we are taking in and understanding ideas that are much more layered and involved than simply what we see. However, I did have some confusion with some of the content the documentary talks about. After emancipation, many African Americans started working in the entertainment industry. Many of them took on the blackface characters that white Irish Americans were doing to dehumanize and ridicule blacks. Why would blacks continue this role? Why would they perpetuate the unfair stereotype? Weren’t whites trying to make fun of blacks? If so, why would black people take on a ridiculed version of themselves? All of the other characters in film, like the Mammy, the Pickaninny, or the Sambo, were all done without blackface, and retained the complex layers of racism. Why would black people perform a role that was an outlandishly garish version of their appearance? I never knew that African Americans would do this, and it’s interesting in the context of performance as a political vehicle.
Performance = just archive
Performance is that which disappears?
! – Performance is not that which disappears, but an act of remaining and a ritual act (Schneider 103).
? – If performance ‘becomes itself through disappearance’, what is its essence while it exists (Schneider 104)?
Birns: performance is not an end, but a means- unpredicted
! – Ralph Lemon says that “any reckoning with past events must be traumatic and incomplete” (Birns 22)
?- The United States, compared to many European or even South American countries, is a very young country. As the US adds years to its history, will the nature of ritualizing the past change? Is this technique universal?