Much like in the movie “Never Look Away”, Richter painted pictures and drew blurry lines through them. This adds mystic and power to the pictures because it makes them less realistic and more imaginary. Simply translating a picture on canvas can be pretty but it holds no true power. However, like Kurt, Richter added power and meaning to his paintings by adding a surreal element to them. Both artists made them less grounded, more spiritual. This makes the audience connect to their art even if they do not know who is depicted. When human form is deformed, people tend to look at it with more intrigue and a wish to put back into form in their mind.
“Shadows of the Summit Pointing West” (1960)
!: DeGaulle fought for national sovereignty in order to take care of Algerian war alone.
?: Was Camp David the most important diplomatic meeting of the 20th century?
“Hitler Within You” (1961)
!: German people refused to sweep Nazi past under the rug.
?: How should a national shame be handled?
“Human Dignity is Violable” (1962)
!: After WWII, the German Constitution was anti-militaristic for a while.
?: Do we need laws, as a species, in order to uphold basic human decency standards?
“Women in the SDS: Acting on Their Own Behalf” (1968)
!: Women in Germany fought for their rights.
?: Why were Germans so against equal pay?
!: The column is a stress reliever, it is a free space in a paper.
?: Who controls which journalist writes what and how does that affect freedom of speech?
! & ? on The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum
!: Tabloids were trusted, almost, religiously.
?: Why did the media have such power at the time?
! & ? on Baader-Meinhof Komplex
!: The Shah was one of the most important figures of the 20th century.
?: Why is leftist terrorsim not as critized as right-winged terrorism? Or at least, why does it seem that way?
After reading both translations of Akhmatova’s work, I realized the main difference was the degree of freedom the translator took when translating her work. On one hand, Anderson took a lot of freedom in order to keep the artistic value of the work and on the other hand, Thomas decided to translate the work word for word in order to keep its original content. Even though both approaches make sense, I resonated with the work of Anderson more because the poems had better flow and rhythm which made it sound like poems while Thomas’ work was very choppy and hard to read. Not having rhyming and rhythm takes away too much of the work which is why Thomas’ translation did not resonate with me.
How are artists treated in Russia today?
Artists who spoke out about the terror of Stalin’s rule have been able to make a name for themselves!
!: The divide between both intellectual fields is growing and the specialization in education is not helping. This trend is worrisome because these fields are both needed for human development and their alienation from each other is stopping our society from growing as well as it should.
?: Why force people to study a field they do not want to study when they know which field they would rather study? Meaning, if someone knows they would like to become a scientist and know that the classics are not of their interest, is it worthwhile to force that knowledge down their throats?
“For constantly I felt I was moving among two groups — comparable in intelligence, identical in race, not grossly different in social origin, earning about the same incomes, who had almost ceased to communicate at all, who in intellectual, moral and psychological climate had so little in common that instead of going from Burlington House or South Kensington to Chelsea, one might have crossed an ocean” (Pg.2)
“As a group, the scientists fall into that trap less than others. They are inclined to be impatient to see if something can be done: and inclined to think that it can be done, until it’s proved otherwise.That is their real Optimism, and it’s an optimism that the rest of us badly need” (Pg. 7)
“It is at the same time practical and intellectual and creative loss, and I repeat that it is false to imagine that those three considerations are clearly separable.” (Pg. 11)
Scientific Experiments: Robert Pain Stresses Starfish, Robert Millikan gets a Charge, Ivan Pavlov Salivates at the idea, Marie Curie’s work matters
Revolutionary Scientific Theories: Plate Tectonics, Special Relativity, General Relativity, Quantum Theory, Evolution by Natural Selection, Heliocentrism
Black Girl Linguistic Play took me by surprise, not only because I had a great time while watching it but also because I somehow felt that I could relate to some parts of it. To me it seemed to transcend racial and gender norms and to speak to a larger audience that was not made up of only African-American Women. I felt that the scene between the two sisters was very evocative of the relation I have with my brother while also highlighting the fact that no matter one’s race, growing up is not easy and mental illnesses are very real.
My main question about this performance was in regards to the chalk, why was it necessary and what did it signify?
Disappearance of a performance has always been seen as necessary because it was not a western tradition to pass things on through performance.
Has there been a push to archive certain performances? If so, who is in charge of picking and choosing which performances matter the most?
Pages 102 to 104 were particularly interesting and led me these ! and ?
A lot of research goes into dancing. It is never simply a movement for the sake of movement, it always means more and is often thoroughly researched.
Can dance be archived through written testimonies of their choreographers? If that is seen as not enough, are videos a better alternative?
Pages 19 to 21 were fascinating and made me think of these ! and ?
Throughout most of the book, the pages and panels in general have very dark undertones. The background is usually dark or darkened by some elongated speech bubbles. However, on these two pages we see light, we see space, we see hope. This march on Washington represents the height of the civil rights movement. After this demonstration, everything picked up speed and civil rights came to the forefront of the American psyche. So, having these pages so void of words but full of imagery and action makes it all the more powerful. Furthermore, I was not aware that John Lewis, Martin Luther King and other leaders did not end up leading the march that day. It makes these panels even more crucial to the whole event, as America really left without them. As John Lewis said, “There goes America.” This shows that he and his colleagues gave Americans the nudge they needed in order to fight for civil rights. These panels heightened the already legendary march on Washington.
As previously mentioned, most of the book depicts the darkest times in modern American history. Most times everything is bunched together in one panel, making them dense and almost impossible to understand. On the other hand, when we get to these panels, we are able to breathe. We start to see the light at the end of the tunnel. No longer does violence surround us but rather benevolence starts to encircle us. The huge crowd of people marching together with one common goal, uninterrupted by racism or violence, sends a powerful image of what America hopes to be and should be. I chose these panels because they show the power of nonviolent protests. If members of the movement had decided to fight back at any point, this march and change would never have been possible. Even though other more powerful panels are present throughout the book, this one resonated with me the most because it showed the beauty of unity. The beauty that can only be found in humanity.
This documentary moved me. The simple, raw images Ai Weiwei and his team were able to capture brought tears to my eyes. Seeing people having to risk their lives to get to a better one and not being accepted past a certain point was disheartening. Knowing they’d left everything behind, sometimes including their own family, and could not attain their goal made me feel empty. Empty because I couldn’t help and my government truly wasn’t helping. It seemed outrageous that Europe signed a deal with Turkey that purposely went against the very treaty they had signed back in 1951: the refugee convention. This convention had helped millions of Europeans find new homes after WWII, but now that it was Europe’s turn to help people out, they decided to close their borders and let people live in misery. This sad truth was very well portrayed throughout the documentary, maybe even too well.
They were points throughout the film that I had to look away from the screen, or at least I felt that I had to. It was not because of excessive blood showing or any huge amount of violence, but because of the close-ups Ai Weiwei did on certain refugees. The camera would simply be fixed on a person’s face and for 10-15 seconds, that is all we could see. Making eye contact with the refugees was truly hard for me because I felt ashamed. Ashamed that I was living a comfortable life, dare I say a lavish one, while these people had to surmount unimaginable amounts of pain. I had the luxury of looking without doing and I could not bear that weight. It reminded of what Sontag said in “Regarding the Pain of Others” and I did not want to be a simple onlooker. In retrospect, I do realize that these images are pushing me to want to do more. So, already being part of Amnesty here on campus, I am looking forward to even more events and even maybe organizing one someday.
Terrell — A christian, a catholic to be more precise. She was one of the first African-American women to get a college degree. She describes the everyday violence African-Americans face. They are turned away from education, jobs and public office. They are always seen as second options behind the white people. White’s are constantly privileged even when they have less skills than the African-American workers or students. This violence of not being to strive because of the color of one’s skin is one that these people could not get away from. It was constant.
Wells — Does not seem like she was very religious. She was a journalist at the start of the civil rights movement. Ida B. Wells talks about the relentless lynching of Africa-Americans. For all sorts of made up reasons, judges would let black people be killed publicly and usually very graphically, making sure they felt pain. These people were just killed because they were black, nothing else. Life was not a given for them, making them live in constant fear.
Both — Both of the violence they speak of are deeply rooted in the legal system. Nothing that happened to these people was illegal back then so no one could really stand up against it. These acts of violence were deeply ingrained in American culture which made them right in the eyes of the people. In both of these readings, women are key because they are doubly victims of these violences. They either experience them first hand or experience them through their husbands. Back then, women were also looked down upon so most of them were not allowed to work and banked on their husbands for survival. So, when their husbands lost their jobs or were killed, these women were left to fend for themselves; they had to fight a very uphill battle. White women were complicit to that violence, they followed what their husbands did because they were not allowed to think for themselves back then. The only solution to anti-black violence was the revamping of all the Jim Crow laws in order to have real equality. However, getting that hate out of the peoples’ mind is a whole other battle, that we still fight to this day.
Throughout the Gourevitch reading, we read about the ending of the Rwandan genocide. We get to see how the international community behaved throughout it and what the Tustis did in order to save themselves. Even though there are no pictures, Gourevitch’s wording and imagery works to put us in the shoes of the victims. With that, we understand a fraction of what they lived through. Words can be amplified by pictures, and Sontag explains why. When reading, one could skip over a line, however it is very hard not to look at an image. Pictures of atrocities grab us in a very distinct way and sometimes never truly let us go. We are invited to see people’s pain from a closer standpoint, which is supposed to make us feel more compassion. However, this viewing of others pain is highly controversial. The fact of the matter is, Western people refuse to have images of themselves experiencing pain in circulation but have no problem with seeing other races or nationalities in such situations. The American at the end of the Gourevitch reading says it best when he says that no one truly cared about Rwanda. However, what he failed to mention was that if anything of this magnitude occurred in the US, no pictures would be allowed to circulate in order not to offend the families. This is never taken into account for other races. The sad reality is that this backwards way of making us feel other people’s pain, will never work. It is impossible to truly know what people who have lived through such atrocities have felt except if we go through them as well.
Being stateless, at first glance, seems to be one of the most dehumanizing things one could go through. When one is stateless, that person is deprived of the sense of belonging we all crave and is ostracized from not only their own society but our world. With that, these people have an extremely difficult time finding jobs and making a living. However, could being stateless be the future? By this I mean could making the choice to belong to no state but instead to the world as a whole be the way global citizens live. Not being bound by state limits but instead having a new UN passport is an interesting idea. One that may seem too idealistic but could potentially work in helping people not be stateless but instead real global citizens.
Photographs bring out our raw emotions. It is the only way to put us all on the same moral ground regarding the horrors of war. Even though it is a man’s game, war is seen as gross, inhumane and useless by everyone; pictures help vehicle those emotions. Sontag in this first chapter talks of the pros and cons of war photography. The main pro is the fact that it enables everyone to see how terrible war really is. We are able to stand in other people’s shoes for just a second and see what we have never experienced. However, there are a few cons with war photography. The first thing is that they can leave a lot up for interpretation. Hence, in a conflict, both sides could claim that the other side did the horrific deed. Furthermore, it can be seen as dehumanizing to use dead bodies as propaganda for more war resources. War photography is the strongest type of photography.
This chapter deals with the strength of war photography and the way seeing the ravages of war makes us feel.
Violence, death and mutilation are all things that most people do not see everyday. Thankfully, most of our planet is living peacefully and can choose to ignore the horrid things that occur on an everyday basis. However, it is exactly because most of us do not see such things that we are so deeply attracted to them. In this chapter, Sontag explains why so many of us wish to interact with such images. We crave to see them because we feel that through sympathy we are helping the people that are feeling this pain. Furthermore, we feel that pain, is more than just pain. In extreme cases pain can become transcendental. The people that feel this type of pain, are seen as having lived something out of the ordinary, which makes us curious and in a way arouses us.
This chapter deals with the relation between the gruesome war images one can encounter and how our mutual attraction to them is what makes us humans.
To remember something horrendous happened is the ethical thing to do. It is an ethical act that shows one has a heart. However, remembering quickly becomes paradoxical. If we choose to never forget, then peace will never be achievable. Grudges and revenge will never die out and will cause a perpetual cycle of hatred to prosper throughout the world. This is why, Sontag, argues that thinking is much more important when we are confronted with horrible things. We are not only to remember but we are to understand how terrible humans really can be. Hence understanding that we are powerless in front of such actions is the only thing humans are able to do. Compassion or moral indignation will not solve these problems, and if we could solve them, then they would not matter as much. Seeing images of terror and desolation make us feel compassion, when in reality, the distance between that reality and our comfy chairs makes cowards of us. To see is effortless. Still, thinking about that violence is still key to our development.
This chapter deals with the difference between memory and remembering as well as the current way we deal with horrendous images, knowing that we have easier access to them.
A few weeks back I had the chance to sit down with author Anna Lidia Vega Serova. A few other classmates were there and we had the opportunity to ask her questions about writing, hybrid identities and how it was to live in the USSR. The last two fields of questions particularly interested me.
I quickly identified with her when she started to speak of going back and forth between Home and home and the alienation she felt in either of these places. For example, when she was in the USSR people saw her as Cuban and vise versa, much like me in the US and France. What fascinated me even more was the distinction she made in her artistic life. As she explained, she is a Cuban author, not because that sells more but because she writes in Spanish and her books are mostly published in Cuba. However, she is a Russian-Cuban painter because she recognizes that she draws a lot from both cultures. I am eager to see if my professional life becomes more like her author career or her painter one.
I was always taught that the USSR was a despicable country that mistreated all of its people, and most of this still holds true to me. However, after speaking with Anna Lidia Vega Serova, I realized that her life there wasn’t as terrible as most history books made it seem. What she hated the most was the weather and not the communist leadership that was in place at the time. Furthermore, she noted that the USSR was a socialist country that aimed to become a communist one but was still nowhere near that goal. Having lived in both Cuba and the USSR, two very socialist and controversial countries, she explained that life was never as bad as the media portrayed it.
“Banality of Evil”:
- Eichmann simply joined the Nazi movement,
- Never particularly agreed with their evil doings but helped them along
- So can we really say that he wasn’t evil?
- Worse than bystander but not as bad as actual doer?
- Different levels of evil?
- Intentions of Eichmann did not seem in the wrong place
- Does that matter when millions died because of him?
- If Eichmann truly wasn’t evil he would have gone against it
- “Never react to an evil in such a way as to augment it” – Simone Weil
- However, evil takes many forms
- Not always recognizable at first glance
The Origins of Totalitarianism:
- Understanding totalitarianism
- Hitlerianism in Germany
- Stalinism in the Soviet Union
- End of totalitarianism is concentration camps in the eyes of Arendt
- How does tyranny come to power?
- Through alienation of the others and strong demagogues
- People with no party allegiance were swayed towards anti-system parties
- Wished to be represented in one way or another
- Mass movements are key to totalitarianism
- Extremely strong loyalty in these
- Gives immense power to their leaders
- I.e. Trump and his statement in Iowa in 2016
- Arendt says “the road to totalitarian domination leads through many intermediate stages for which we can find numerous analogies and precedents.”
- Important always pay attention to the rise of populist demagogues
- Born in Germany, lived in Austria and died by hanging in Israel
- He was convicted for his crimes during the Holocaust
- He was a regular salesman before his nazi life, but lost his job during the Great Depression
- He joined in 1932 and rose through the ranks quite quickly
- Was put in charge of getting rid of Jews in Vienna and Prague
- In 1942 he was relocated to Berlin and was put in charge of the final solution to the Jewish problem
- Mass execution
- Named Chief Executioner
- After WWII he fled to the Middle East and then to Buenos Aires, Argentina
- There he was caught by the Israelites and brought to Israel to be judged
- Didn’t consider himself to be an anti-semite
- Said he was just an obedient bureaucrat
- Said he had not violated any laws
- He professed his discomfort regarding the gas chambers, “I was horrified. My nerves aren’t strong enough. I can’t listen to such things—such things, without their affecting me”
- Was he just part of something bigger than himself?
- Or simply a professional liar?
- Either way, his actions cannot be excused
Eichmann at his trial