I attended a talk and dinner with Sebastian Meyer, an award-winning photographer and filmmaker, who lived and worked in Iraq documenting the Kurdish community struggle through war in hopes of regaining autonomy and peace. Kurds are an ethnic group native to a mountainous region known as Kurdistan, which spans southeastern Turkey, northwestern Iran, northern Iraq, and northern Syria. The Kurds residing in Iraq faced war (2008 – 2014) in an effort to gain back land in the region and receive political rights in the wake of the U.S. occupation of Iraq in 2003. Meyer was employed by a British film company to take portraits of the survivors of the Anfal genocide in Iraq, an anti-Kurdish genocidal campaign in 1988, and found himself staying in Kurdistan for several years afterwards. In his time in Iraq, he documented, through photographs, the Kurdish resilience against all odds. He quotes, “Iraq’s Kurds have paid a heavy price in their fight for self-determination, oppressed by British colonialists, Iraqi monarchists and Saddam’s Ba’athists alike. Every decade has been marred by genocide or displacement, often both.” Meyer published a photography book titled Under Every Yard of Sky which is a collection of some of his photographs of the Kurdish community and tells a story of a great nation fighting for equality.
In attempting to understand the meaning behind paintings and portrayals, it is often difficult to differentiate the artist’s intentions from the perspective of the viewer. Gerhard Richter’s paintings of Ulrike Meinhof, as a series, see the gradual change in the images from the beginning as a clear image based off the photograph to a, in the last image, very blurred, blended creation. In the progression of the paintings, we see Meinhof slowly distancing from reality. The once well-known terrorist slowly fading to nothingness. She, in the last image, takes on a much more human form, in which this idealized figure becomes just like the common man. Gerhard Richter’s youth portrait of Ulrike Meinhof paints a different picture, however. She appears young, a rising, new face in the fight against this new Germany. She appears youthful, untroubled by the years of work that she will face later. In this portrait, she is a person, not a character, she has not been demonized or dehumanized by the media. This is a way to identify with her on a much more physical, intimate level. However, in the “Dead” series of paintings, after many years with the RAF, Meinhof has lost any sense of humanity in these images. The series depicts her dead body the final place she will ever be seen. It’s a gruesome depiction of the fall of an influential person of the time.
Shadows of the Summit Pointing West
(!) She points out the motive for each country’s leader for their actions and dissects how those actions influence other countries.
(?) Why does she argue that the Soviet Union “is the country least affected or irritated by internal difficulties or disagreements with its allies”? (page 106).
New German Ghetto Show
(!) She points out that they who feel the suspicion and the wrongness of the policies need to come together and act to prevent what happened in the past from happening again.
(?) This new Germany continued to falsify information about its people. Has this new Germany really changed? Have they learned from their mistakes and are acting to prevent what happened in the past again?
Hitler Within You
(!) It is important to note that she advocates for the undoing of old political structures that allowed for the genocide, yet never calls on the wrongs of the government and rather advocates instead for the elimination of political terror towards the opposition.
(?) Does the new, younger generation hold a responsibility to hold the older generation accountable for their actions?
Human Dignity is Violable
(!) She argues that nuclear rearmament and democracy cannot coexist. If the nation is to instill a constitution based on peace and freedom, then nuclear weapons cannot enter the playing field.
(?) “The politics of peace in the sense of a permanent state of disarmament would never again be subject to party politics or decided by a majority rule” is a bit optimistic isn’t it? It’s a perfectionist word view to expect that the constitution would be completely unbiased.
Vietnam and Germany
(!) Germany censored those opposed to the Vietnam war, yet published media that supported it.
(?) If writing was censored, who had control to do so?
Everybody Talks About the Weather
(!) We cannot forget that political actions have real human consequences.
(?) How can families, or women and children, be protected during the time of revolution or political upheaval?
Women in the SDS
(!) There must be a complete overhaul of the political and societal spheres for women to truly gain their place in society.
(?) Does political action need to have personal influences to be truly meaningful?
From Protest to Resistance
(!) “It had been documented that common decency is a shackle that is easily broken if the shackled person is being beaten up or shot at”. (page 241).
(?) Is there really a need to use violent resistance/protest? Or can violent resistance be a final resort?
(!) All publications have a certain bias, leaning towards the sentiment of the writer.
(?) How then does the reader know if the information they are given is true and authentic? Isn’t the job of a columnist to present the complete truth?
(!) The use of sensationalism and exaggeration for the sake of a good story (yellow journalism) in no way serves to clarify that “the duty of the press is to inform the public.” The press is to be an unbiased source of information, not a race to find the biggest story and destroying someone’s life in the process.
(?) Is it fair to say that there is evidence that suggests that some of our own media also uses sensationalism to create interest and “clickbait”?
(!) As the movie progresses, the mission begins to blur and they seem more focused on devotion to the cause rather than creating progress in society. In their devotion to the cause, they drive themselves absolute mad.
(?) Was deserting her family and driving herself to madness really worth this “revolutionary” cause?
In reading the two translations of Requiem, I found myself drawn to Anderson’s translation due to its emotional resonance. The translation carried rhyme and aimed to flow a certain way. Given that I do not have the context of the original Russian writing, I can only infer that Anderson’s translation required interpretation by Anderson to achieve such sentiments. However, Thomas’s translation was elegant and sophisticated, in a way which I assume is much closer to the original text. I believe that both translations convey the message effectively despite the obvious differences.
In my AT group, we primarily discussed the differences we found between the two translations. We evaluated Thomas’s translation as much more sophisticated and direct translation of the original text and Anderson’s text as interpreted and personal. Thomas’s translation used direct language and imagery. We all agreed on the fact that Anderson likely translated for a native English speaker as seen in the language used, and Thomas took to translating directly from the original Russian.
We then talked about which translation is more effective, or if they each satisfy something completely different. We discussed topics such as if translation closer to the original text is more significant, or should we rely on the translator to interpret the writing?
! – Poets and authors were censored even before Stalin’s era. The Czarist era saw censorship for writing as well.
? – Some authors chose to write children’s books as a way to save themselves. However, as we were presented with, many left hidden messages in their books. How were these authors not persecuted by the regime?
Unit 6 Assignment 1
(!) Snow discusses the clear separation between the two intellectual cultures—the Sciences and the Humanities. He analyzes that in the modern Western culture, there is a divide between the two, working against each other, rather than together. People in each culture scoff at the “ignorance” of the other culture. Intellectuals in the Humanities laugh at the scientists who have never read major works of English literature, who cannot quote Shakespeare. Snow states, “They give a pitying chuckle at the news of scientists who have never read a major work of English literature. They dismiss them as ignorant specialists. Yet their own ignorance and their own specialisation is just as startling.” (15). Snow argues the issues of both cultures, including, “A good many times I have been present at gatherings of people who, by the standards of the traditional culture, are thought highly educated and who have with considerable gusto been expressing their incredulity at the illiteracy of scientists. Once or twice I have been provoked and have asked the company how many of them could describe the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The response was cold: it was also negative. Yet I was asking something which is about the scientific equivalent of: Have you read a work of Shakespeare’s?” (15). Both cultures hold a sense of superiority towards the other. Literary intellectuals consider scientists ignorant because they do not read major works of classic literature and in the same way, scientists see people in the Humanities as not contributing to the scientific understanding of the world.
(?) The clashing point of two subjects, two disciplines, two cultures—of two galaxies, so far as that goes—ought to produce creative chances (16).
In my reading of this passage, I found myself wondering when this divide truly began between the two disciplines? When did we begin viewing one as less important than the other? And in that same vain, how can we come back to seeing both disciplines as contributing meaningfully to society in different ways?
Experiments I recognized:
- Gregor Mendel Cultivates Genetics
- Isaac Newton Eyes Optics
- Marie Curie’s Work Matters
- Ivan Pavlov Salivates at the Idea
- Robert Millikan Gets a Charge
- Young, Davisson, and Germer See Particles Do the Wave
Theories I recognized:
- Information Theory
- Game Theory
- Plate Tectonics
- Special Relativity
- General Relativity
- Quantum Theory
- Evolution by Natural Selection
! – The performance utilizes many common childhood actions and recurring themes to portray the innate bond of sisterhood between young girls. It asserts that dance can be used to portray a greater meaning
? – How does the performance affect the individual? For me as a women, I found myself able to relate to many of the pieces, and felt connected to it. However, I am interested in seeing how it may have affected other people.
Schneider: Performance Remains
! – “When we approach performance not as that which disappears, but as both the act of remaining and a means of reappearance, we almost immediately are forced to admit that remains do not have to be isolated to the document, to the object, to bone versus flesh” (103). Performance is not static; we do not experience and ultimately forget. Performance is persistent, it remains ingrained in us.
? – Performance (dance, song, poetry, tradition, ceremony, rituals) has been passed down for generations in many cultures, acting as a source of history for those whose history has been forgotten or erased. Why then is performance not considered history, when it is a vital part of expression?
Birns: “Ritualizing the Past: Ralph-Lemon’s Counter-Memorials”
! – On page 20, Birns references the lynching of Emmett Till under the accusation of suggestive glances at a white woman. Further down the paragraph, it states that there is no description of what the woman looked like. This is simply because it did not matter. A woman said that he looked at her, therefore, her word must be true. It did not matter whether she was telling the truth or not, all that mattered was that they could kill another young black man. Her words or opinions really did not make much of a difference to the mob, all that mattered was that they could point a finger at an innocent young man. The cruelty in these actions goes beyond any human perception, it is an act of utter hate and inhumanity.
? – In considering that many of these monuments have simply been replaced, only known to those who remember, how are we acting as bystanders and allowing this to happen? In allowing these events to be forgotten?
On November 14th, I attended the Raymond Santana talk, a member of the Central Park 5, now known as the Exonerated 5. Walking into the Lily Gallery, I saw a room packed with people ready and willing to hear his story. He began by recounting his experience on that night. He recalls going about his day normally, having never encountered the women he was accused of raping. He was only a young man at the time, wanting nothing more than to live his life and go about his day to day.
When the police found the victim, she had no recollection of the assault, and therefore, the police focused on black and brown men in the area. They found the 5 boys and instantly took them to the station. There they were held for over 30 hours of interrogation. The police officers and detectives interrogating Santana and the other young men used the Reid Technique, a way to coerce a suspect of a confession, whether true or false. It is a form of psychological manipulation used to confuse and disturb the suspect and is highly looked down upon today, however, is still used by some departments. The police found this method easy to execute on young men who had no awareness of these tactics nor had much knowledge of their legal rights. Santana posed the question to us too. If he knew that he had not assaulted the women, how could he have confessed to doing it? He goes on to say the fear and intimidation the interrogators direct at you is enough to make you believe that you had committed the act. I have had the opportunity to learn about this technique from other cases I have researched, but to hear a firsthand account really put it into perspective. It really tore my heart to see the injustice occurring in our own country.
Santana then tells of his exoneration and the rapist coming forward to admit to his crimes. Santana and the 4 other men faced great backlash even after release. The media refused to believe their truth, and the government refused to hear their calls for justice. It was the whole world against them. No one seemed to believe their innocence, no matter how much evidence pointed to their innocence. People feared that the justice system had released criminals back into their midst. These people’s judgment had been greatly clouded by media influence. Every journalist published their names as criminals, using sensationalizing terms such as “wolf pack” and “wilding” to portray these boys as animals rather than people deserving humane treatment. With both the national media and the justice system against you, there seemed to be no end to the pain and suffering they had endured.
Santana now uses his platform to educate people around the United States about the injustice of the US justice system and the industrial prison complex. He advocates for greater reform and the use of fair treatment. When one student asked what we could do to help, even in the smallest of ways, Santana comments that just by being at this talk, we have educated ourselves and been present to witness. His mission is to spread his story and the stories of others in hopes of inspiring change for the generations to come.
Entering the performance hall, I’m met with a grand display, the set built from floor to ceiling, covered in extravagant detail. We were seated in the first row, up close to the stage, and this greatly changed my reception of the play. The actors clearly had a deep understanding of the text and their interpretation reflected that. The depth of emotion shown throughout the play made the performance very interesting. I found it interesting that Lady Macbeth was portrayed as an innocent, submissive character, much different than Shakespeare’s version in which she is a major character and orchestrator. In the original play, she is responsible for much of the plot and is plotting behind the scenes. In this interpretation, she was more docile and acted more to reassure Macbeth rather than to scheme. I thought it was very interesting that many of the original male or female characters were played by someone of the opposite sex. It really made for a thought provoking experience.