More about Koos HERE (in Afrikaans). Definitely one of my favourite South African songwriters.
More about Koos HERE (in Afrikaans). Definitely one of my favourite South African songwriters.
I am attracted to ellipsis, to the unsaid, to suggestion, to eloquent, deliberate silence. The unsaid, for me, exerts great power: often I wish an entire poem could be made in this vocabulary. It is analogous to the unseen for example, to the power of ruins, to works of art either damaged or incomplete. Such works inevitably allude to larger contexts; they haunt because they are not whole, though wholeness is implied: another time, a world in which they were whole, or were to have been whole, is implied. There is no moment in which their first home is felt to be the museum. …
… It seems to me that what is wanted, in art, is to harness the power of the unfinished. All earthly experience is partial. Not simply because it is subjective, but because that which we do not know, of the universe, of mortality, is so much more vast than that which we do know. What is unfinished or has been destroyed participates in these mysteries. The problem is to make a whole that does not forfeit this power.
— From Louise Glück, “Disruption, Hesitation, Silence” in Proofs & Theories: Essays on Poetry (New York: Ecco, 1994) 74-75.
There were mountains to begin with
Silence shaped in giant
My voice would reach the highest
But you cannot tell this in English
An old man’s precise and attentive
My mother’s tongue my heart only sounds
As a girl I got lost in a cloud
But you cannot tell this in English
I balance an egg in a spoon
I’m never on time, it’s too late or too soon
In the night there is always the moon
That doesn’t speak in English
1966 Simon and Garfunkel cover.
The following essay is excerpted from Mladen Dolar’s book, A Voice and Nothing More (which I’m reading for my dissertation).
The voice did not figure as a major [western] philosophical topic until the 1960s, when Derrida and Lacan separately proposed it as a central theoretical concern. Dolar goes beyond Derrida’s idea of “phonocentrism” and revives and develops Lacan’s claim that the voice is one of the paramount embodiments of the psychoanalytic object (objet a). Dolar proposes that, apart from the two commonly understood uses of the voice as a vehicle of meaning and as a source of aesthetic admiration, there is a third level of understanding: the voice as an object that can be seen as the lever of thought. He investigates the object voice on a number of different levels–the linguistics of the voice, the metaphysics of the voice, the ethics of the voice (with the voice of conscience), the paradoxical relation between the voice and the body, the politics of the voice–and he scrutinizes the uses of the voice in Freud and Kafka. (There’s a great review by Christine Boyko-Head HERE.)
Plutarch tells the story of a man who plucked a nightingale and finding but little to eat exclaimed: “You are just a voice and nothing more.”
There is a story that goes like this: In the middle of a war, in the middle of a battle, there is a company of Italian soldiers in the trenches. And there is an Italian commander who issues the command “Soldiers, attack!” But nothing happens, nobody moves. So the commander gets angry and shouts even louder “Soldiers, attack!” At which point there is a response, a voice rising from the trenches saying Che bella voce!
This story can serve as a good entry into the problem of the voice. On the first level this is a story of a failed interpellation. The soldiers fail to recognize themselves in the appeal, the call of the other, the call of duty, and they don’t act accordingly. Surely the fact that they are Italian soldiers plays a great role in it, they do act according to their image of not the most courageous soldiers in the world, as legend has it, and the story is most certainly not a model of political correctness, it indulges in tacit chauvinism and national stereotypes. So the command fails, the addressees don’t recognize themselves in the meaning being conveyed, they concentrate instead on the medium, which is the voice. The attention paid to the voice hinders the interpellation and the transmission of a symbolic mandate, the transmission of a mission.
But on a second level another interpellation works in the place of the failed one: if the soldiers don’t recognize themselves in their mission as the soldiers in the middle of a battle, they do recognize themselves as addressees of another message, they constitute a community as a response to the call, the community of people who can appreciate the aesthetics of a beautiful voice. Who can appreciate it when it is hardly the moment, and especially when it is hardly the moment to do so? So if in one respect they act as stereotypical Italian soldiers, they also act as stereotypical Italians in this other respect, namely as opera lovers. They constitute themselves as the community of “the friends of the Italian opera” (to take the immortal line from Some Like It Hot), living up to their reputation of connoisseurs, people of refined taste who have amply trained their ears with bel canto, so they can tell a beautiful voice when they hear one, even among the canon fire.
The soldiers have done the right thing, from our biased present perspective, at least in an incipient way, when they have concentrated on the voice instead of on the message, although, to be sure, for the wrong reasons. They are seized by a sudden aesthetic interest precisely when they would have had to attack, they concentrate on the voice because they have grasped the meaning all too well. But quite apart from their feigned artistic inclination they have also bungled the voice the moment they isolated it, they immediately turned it into an object of aesthetic pleasure, an object of veneration and worship, the bearer of a meaning beyond the ordinary meanings. The aesthetic concentration on the voice loses the voice precisely by turning it into a fetish-object.
I will try to argue that there is a third level: an object voice which doesn’t go up in smoke in conveyance of meaning and which doesn’t solidify either in an object of fetish reverence, but an object which functions as a blind spot in the call and a disturbance of aesthetic appreciation. One shows fidelity to the first by running to the attack, one shows fidelity to the second by running to the opera. But fidelity to the third is far more difficult to achieve. I will try to pursue it on three different levels: linguistics, ethics and politics. Continue reading
The road sings
When I leave
I take three steps…
The road is silent.
Gramophone recording 周璇-不要唱吧 (1947).
Word you said too elegant
Turn, do not sing, do not sing!
Self-love and love
Sound they say is too nauseating
Easily and not great
Majestic and frightening
Solemn nobody loves it
Not to sing, do not sing!
Do not open so people curse
Do not open to avoid being criticized
Do not sing do not sing!
I’ve been listening to old Lata Mangeshkar records on my new, very old His Master’s Voice (model HMV 88a) gramophone. Indescribably magical, to listen to something powered only by the twist of your own wrist.
This song is from the film Dil Bhi Tera Hum Bhi Tere (1960).
Don’t call out to me in the stillness of the night
Don’t play that music which brings tears to my eyes
Don’t play it
Don’t call out to me
My irreverent nieces’ voicenotes are just the best when end of term varsity work is driving me a bit insane.
“Time, time, time, see what’s become of me…”
Great Simon and Garfunkel cover, recorded by the Bangles for the soundtrack of the film Less Than Zero in 1987.
As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness.
Sailors have an expression about the weather: they say, the weather is a great bluffer. I guess the same is true of our human society – things can look dark, then a break shows in the clouds, and all is changed, sometimes rather suddenly. It is quite obvious that the human race has made a queer mess of life on this planet. But as a people we probably harbour seeds of goodness that have lain for a long time waiting to sprout when the conditions are right. Man’s curiosity, his relentlessness, his inventiveness, his ingenuity have led him into deep trouble. We can only hope that these same traits will enable him to claw his way out.
Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.
E. B. White
(I found this at Letters of Note.)
The sweetest bitter little song.
I think creativity, and the making of artefacts, is a product of cultures in general, and the Western sense of “Art” is a product of massive surplus over and above the meeting of needs for artefacts.
The idea of it as a “high” expression of culture has spread with imperialism, as did the idea of a “national culture” being expressed through literature. It is as Western as the English language, and carries with it the same kinds of embedded privilege, in terms of it being a “text” which privileges European concerns. It is impossible to “speak” art without its European history being part of the discussion.
I think that much like European history has been selectively “rewritten” to seem to be a continuous, meaningful story from prehistory to Modern America, so has art history.
It’s great to have it around. Certainly I like it. But to engage in it without confronting its lies and limitations is like living inside the bubble of white privilege without standing back to look at its impact on the world in general, and see who gets favoured by its discourses of “natural” “genius” and “talent” (as opposed to “first-language” familiarity), compared with who gets punished and dumped outside its magic circle like so much human trash.
That like a daisy opens its petals to the sun
So do you
Open your face to me as I turn the page.
Any man would be under your spell,
Oh, beauty of a magazine.
How many poems have been written to you?
How many Dantes have written to you, Beatrice?
To your obsessive illusion,
To your manufactured fantasy?
But today I won’t make one more cliché
And write this poem to you.
No, no more clichés.
This poem is dedicated to those women
Whose beauty is in their charm,
In their intelligence,
In their character,
Not in their fabricated looks.
This poem is to you women,
That like a Scheherazade wake up
Every day with a new story to tell,
A story that sings for change
That hopes for battles:
Battles for the love of the united flesh
Battles for passion aroused by a new day
Battles for neglected rights
Or just battles to survive one more night.
Yes, to you women in a world of pain
To you, bright star in this ever-spending universe
To you, fighter of a thousand-and-one fights
To you, friend of my heart.
From now on, my head won’t look down to a magazine
Rather, it will contemplate the night
And its bright stars,
And so, no more clichés.
We must turn off the television, and go out for a walk, losing ourselves in the city or in our thoughts. To escape we need to be still and silent for a while, to stop being images, to become again what we are: men and women, blood and time.
Using as her source material a segment of 1970s European softcore pornography, Naomi Uman created this derived piece by painstakingly removing the female from each frame using bleach and nail polish remover, thus presenting the viewer with a bizarre, ghostly effect of a figure; a blank void of a woman.
Capacious video for the track from Tomorrow’s Harvest (Warp Records, 2013).
“Once you’ve left the floor there ain’t no beat no more…”
Last track on the 1984 Factory Records release, From The Hip.
There’s no such thing as going home
I’m not formed of myself alone
From Leslie Feist’s self-produced demo session, informally called “The Red Demos” (2001).
The “human” in the South African context
Whether there is anything which is still to be rediscovered or to be reanimated from the term “the human” takes on a paradoxical resonance in contemporary South Africa. With the end of apartheid, South African culture and society was confronted with the urgency of engaging in affirmative politics in lieu of the politics of destruction of the years of racial segregation. Affirmative politics entailed the production of social horizons of hope. At the same time, it meant resisting both the inertia of the present and the nostalgia of the past. To reconstruct what centuries of racial brutality had destroyed, a balance had to be found between the mobilization, actualization and deployment of cognitive, affective and creative possibilities which had not so far been activated, along with a necessary dose of oppositional consciousness.
Critical humanism in this new context would have meant a persistent commitment to the possibilities and powers of life. There is substantial evidence that a return to the question of the possibilities and powers of life as a precondition for the reconstitution of “the human” in politics and culture was recognized as a matter of ethical and political urgency during the first decade of democracy. During this decade, South Africa became a model of how to dismantle a racial mode of rule, strike down race-based frameworks of citizenship and the law while striving to create racial equality through positive State action. The post-apartheid State fostered a normative project with the aim of achieving justice through reconciliation, equality through economic redress, democracy through the transformation of the law and the restoration of a variety of rights, including the right to a dignified life. This normative project was enshrined in a utopian Constitution that attempts to establish a new relationship between law and society on the one hand and law and life on the other, while equating democracy and the political itself with the ethical and the just. This Constitution’s underlying principle is ubuntu or human mutuality. It promises a transcendence of the old politics of racial difference and an affirmation of a shared humanity. Underpinning the Constitution is the hope that, after centuries of attempts by white power to contain blacks, South Africa could become the speech-act of a certain way of being-in-common rather than side by side.
This drive to “re-humanize” society and culture and to institutionalize a new political community that defines itself as an ethical community is nevertheless unfolding against various odds. Perhaps to a degree hardly achieved in the rest of the Continent, the human has consistently taken on the form of waste within the peculiar trajectory race and capitalism espoused in South Africa. Traditionally, we speak of “waste” as something produced bodily or socially by humans. In this sense, “waste” is that which is other than the human. Traditionally too, we speak of the intrinsic capacity of capitalism to waste human lives. We speak of how workers are wasted under capitalism in comparable fashion to natural resources. Marx in particular characterizes capitalist production as thoroughly wasteful with what he calls “human material” just as it is with “material resources”. It squanders “human beings, living labour”, “squandering not only flesh and blood, but nerves and brain, life and health as well”, he writes. In order to grasp the particular drama of the human in the history of South Africa, we should broaden this traditional definition of “waste” and consider the human itself as a waste product at the interface of race and capitalism. Squandering and wasting black lives has been an intrinsic part of the logic of capitalism, especially in those contexts in which race is central to the simultaneous production of wealth and of superfluous people.
Today, this logic of waste is particularly dramatized by the dilemmas of unemployment and disposability, survival and subsistence, and the expansion in every arena of everyday life of spaces of vulnerability. Despite the emergence of a solid black middle class, a rising superfluous population is becoming a permanent fixture of the South African social landscape with little possibility of ever being exploited by capital. Only a dwindling number of individuals can now claim to be workers in the traditional sense of the term. How to govern the poor has therefore become one of the biggest moral questions facing the nascent democracy. Behind policy debates on “welfare” and “service delivery” loom fundamental ethical choices that will determine the nature of the South African experiment in democracy – questions of how to right historical wrongs; what is the relationship between personal or collective injury and larger problems of equality, justice and the law; hunger and morality; owning and sharing; or even truth, hope and reconciliation. The urgency of these new moral dilemmas is such that, for the democratic project to have any future at all, it should necessarily take the form of a conscious attempt to retrieve life and “the human” from a history of waste.
Wealth and property
Meanwhile, wealth and property have acquired a new salience in public debate. They have become the key, central idioms to framing and naming ongoing social struggles – from imagining the relationship between “the good life” to redefining value itself; from claims of citizenship, rights and entitlements to the definition of the forms of property and the economy itself (whether we should nationalize or not); from matters of morality to those of lifestyle and accountability.
The centrality of wealth in the moral discourse concerning the “human’ is not new. In various parts of pre-colonial Africa, discourses on “the human”, or, on “humanity” almost always took the shape and content of discourses about “wealth”, “personhood” and “social multiplicity”. Traditional definitions of wealth usually encompassed “people”, “things” and “knowledge”.
“People”, that is, other human beings, were not only the most important unit of measurement of ultimate value. They also formed the material basis or infrastructure of human life. ‘People’ consisted of interpersonal dependents of all kinds – wives, children, clients and slaves. As Jane Guyer argues, they were sought, valued, and at times paid for at considerable expense in material terms. Kinship and marriage especially were critical components of accumulative strategies. But wealth also covered traded goods, including the imported goods brought from elsewhere. Things could be personalized objects. Goods could be functionally interchangeable with human beings who in turn could in certain respects be “objectified” or converted into clients or followers.
Wealth – embodied in rights in people – remained a persistent principle of African social and moral life even in the midst of the various shifts induced by the slave trade and colonialism. Knowledge on the other hand was understood as an ever shifting spectrum of possibility. Jane Guyer makes it clear that it was highly valued, complexly organized and plural by definition. There was no social organization of kinship and material life that did not depend, to some extent, on a regime of distribution of knowledge – the arts, music, dance, rhetoric, spiritual life, hunting, gathering, fishing, cultivation, wood-carving, metallurgy. If certain forms of knowledge were specialized, controlled and monopolized by a small cadre of experts or a secret society hierarchy, other forms of knowledge were conceptualized as an open and unbounded repertoire. This unboundedness made it possible for such forms of knowledge to be widely distributed throughout the society and among many adepts on the basis of personal capacity or potentiality.
Indeed, African pre-colonial discourses on the “human” allowed for personal differentiation or singularity. It was believed that certain qualities lived in the individual from his or her birth; which he or she had no need for “magic” to arouse although there was always the indispensable need for magical rites to conserve these. Personal abilities could be augmented, conserved and actualized within the person, making that person a “real person”, recognized as such by the community. Each individual person’s power was itself a composition.
That some of these old tropes might still be at work in current controversies on wealth and property should not be entirely excluded. But that wealth, poverty and property have become essential to the self-understanding of South African society after liberation should also be read against a long history of black dispossession. In the new phase of “frontier accumulation” made possible by the 1994 negotiated settlement, they have become the new idioms for political and normative arguments about what should be the proper relation of people to things; what should be the proper relation of people to each other with respect to things; how much property is enough for one person and how much is too much; how much enjoyment is justifiable especially for the opulent in an environment where hunger and debasement are all too real for many. It is this tension between what looks like an unstoppable logic of unproductive excess on the one hand and on the other, a logic of scarcity and depletion that is turning wealth and property into dramatic sites of contestation.
Wealth and property also operate as means of regulating access to resources that are scarce for some and plentiful for others. They are the main means by which life chances are assigned to different kinds of persons at a time when pockets of wealth and privilege are proving hard not only to account for and even less so to control, but also hard to subject to some form of accountability and redistribution. Furthermore, as Arjun Appadurai observes, the life of the poor has become a strenuous effort to produce, if not a sense of stability, then something like permanence in the face of the temporariness or volatility of almost all the arrangements of social existence. Indeed, one of the most brutal effects of neo-liberalism in South Africa has been the generalization and radicalization of a condition of temporariness for the poor. For many people, the struggle to be alive has taken the form of a struggle against the constant corrosion of the present, both by change and by uncertainty.
In order to reanimate the idea of “the human” in contemporary South African politics and culture, there is therefore no escape from the need to reflect on the thoroughly political and historical character of wealth and property and the extent to which wealth and property have come to be linked with bodily life. If what distinguishes the South African experiment from other such experiments elsewhere in the world is the attempt to establish a new relationship between law and life while equating democracy and the political itself with the ethical and the just, then we have to ask under what conditions can this project of human mutuality result in a broader and more ethical commensality.
Read the rest of this essay HERE.
Happening next Thursday, 14 May 2015, this book launch and exhibition promises to be well worth attending. I’ve read parts of the manuscript for the book, and it deals with the topics of western scientific knowledge production and reading colonial archives “across the grain” in ways that are really apposite right now.
“You get extra points if you wear sadness… especially with socks.”
– UCT, passing by.
… [W]e must resign ourselves to the inevitable… that the bourgeoisie is condemned to become every day more snarling, more openly ferocious, more shameless, more summarily barbarous; that it is an implacable law that every decadent class finds itself turned into a receptacle into which flow all the dirty waters of history; that it is a universal law that before it disappears, every class must first disgrace itself completely, on all fronts, and that it is with their heads buried in the dunghill that dying societies utter their swan songs.
— Aimé Césaire, from Discourse on Colonialism (1955), translated by Joan Pinkham (1972). Read more HERE (do, it’s engaging and chillingly prescient).
It’s quite fascinating to watch how unwilling most white people are to listen to people talking about experiences that differ from their own. For example, in a conversation about institutional racism and changing Eurocentric curricula to syllabi balanced with African perspectives, having been taught from tiny that their white perspective is the only valid perspective, they are so utterly convinced of this that they are unable to hear the reasoning around what is happening. So, they become more and more threatened and confused, and say more and more strident, prejudiced things.
Here is a typical example of the trajectory of conversations I have been having with white liberals I know lately – people who defend rainbow nation rhetoric unquestioningly, because it stops them having to think critically about themselves and their comfy little self-made worlds, how they remain complicit with oppression. It starts with a status update posted by a Facebook friend, a South African doctor currently living in Europe. The main antagonist, whom I have never met nor spoken with before (and hopefully never have to again!), is just aching for an excuse to dismiss what I am saying, until he can’t hold back anymore and attacks me personally with a flood of childish insults. My grateful thanks to the voluble, rude, bigoted Roland Paterson-Jones for providing me with this perfect study of white arrogance. ;)
Anne* – 11 April at 00:19 ·
I too used to jump up and down in the safety of my little UCT play pen and protest all manner of things. But if you tried the sort of vandalism and intimidation that goes on now in your real-life work place, you would be out-on-your-arse fired and prosecuted. #realitybites #youllseewhenyougraduate
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Ingrid, Abby and 19 others like this.
Irene So true
11 April at 01:12 · Edited · Like
Roland Ha, snap! Maybe we just getting old and boring
11 April at 04:15 · Like · 1
Candy Well said A, my point exactly!
11 April at 05:34 · Like
Rosemary Sjoe, A, it’s really a different kettle of fish now, I’m telling you, having been there with you back then and also there now. These are big issues, not petulance.
11 April at 07:16 · Like · 1
Roland Bringing down apartheid was not petulance. Bringing down a statue? Meh!
11 April at 08:13 · Like
Rosemary The issue is institutional racism, which is still very much alive – and that statue is but a small symbol of its persistence. If you actually care, read the mission statement, here: https://www.facebook.com/RhodesMustFall/posts/1559394444336048 and understand that as a person who has historically been on the lucky side of the racial divides put in place by apartheid, i.e. someone who has never felt oppressed by the institutional climate at UCT, you will have been oblivious to the hurt and insults that persist due to the lack of transformation. As white people we don’t have a perspective on this pain, and, if we care about ACTUALLY bringing down the legacy of apartheid, we need to pay attention to what people who are still feeling its effects are saying.
UCT RHODES MUST FALL MISSION STATEMENT
11 April at 08:21 · Edited · Like · 1 ·
Roland Oh stop bleeding, Rosemary! They’re a bunch of spoiled arrogant privileged youngsters. Make a positive suggestion or contribution, and stop wringing your hands in shame. You’re actually being deeply condescending, rather than helping, which is, in turn, actually exacerbating the problem of unequal opportunity.
11 April at 08:26 · Like
Roland Your deliberate separation of ‘white’ and ‘black’, ‘us’ and ‘them’, is, similarly, entrenching damaging zeitgeist. Please stop!
11 April at 08:27 · Like
Rosemary Don’t get me wrong: I think racial categories are incredibly damaging. The fact that their legacies persist is something that needs to be dealt with though, not denied.
11 April at 08:30 · Like · 2
Rosemary I have no shame, and no condescension, Rather, I am doing my best to listen to what people say they need, and to make space for them to actualise those needs, rather than sitting with an imaginary panoptical viewpoint (that as white people we have been taught we have) and presuming to tell people what it is they need to do. THAT is condescension.
11 April at 08:32 · Like · 1
Roland Fair enough – at some point we need to take a stand on what we personally think is right though, rather than bend too much to dangerous philosophies, just because they come from sectors that may or may not have genuine historical grievances. The rise of naziism is a case in point.
11 April at 08:34 · Like · 1
Rosemary I can assure you that there would not be this hullabaloo if their pain was not real.
11 April at 08:35 · Like · 1
Roland And I assure you that nazi’s only rose to power through significant collective pain after WW1.
11 April at 08:37 · Like · 1
Rosemary Reductio ad Hitlerum
11 April at 08:39 · Edited · Like · 1 ·
Roland Ha – sorry for drawing an attempted analogy. My point though, is that damaged people are significantly more likely to be drawn to extreme viewpoints and actions. So, the real question is how do we reduce damage and polarisation? I have not seen any constructive suggestions emerging from RMF. I see only destruction, coupled with meaningless rhetoric such as ‘transformation’ and ‘africanisation’. What does that even mean?
11 April at 08:49 · Edited · Like
Roland And remember, in life little is fair – we all have reasons to feel aggrieved in some way. I’m sure you do. I know I do. The universe does not owe us our existence.
11 April at 08:48 · Like
Rosemary Are you at UCT right now? It’s been an incredibly moving and inspiring thing to see what Rhodes Must Fall has accomplished. It’s absolutely not about believing anyone owes them anything, and all about doing for self. They’ve had teach-ins and debates organised every night, and worked on what a non-Eurocentric curriculum would look like. One of my black colleagues at the Archive and Public Culture research initiative has been involved in facilitating this stuff. I assure you, this is a moment to rejoice in, not to be fearful.
11 April at 08:52 · Like · 1
Rosemary (I really don’t think the press has covered what has been going on in any vaguely satisfactory way. That is why I feel I must say something when people are all gloom-and-doom-and-contempt about it.)
11 April at 08:53 · Like
Roland No, I was at UCT in the mid/late 80’s. Why don’t we see more of the positive intent? I have read the RMF manifesto and am appalled.
11 April at 08:53 · Like
Rosemary I don’t know. It’s what fits narratives, I guess. I have to leave Facebook now. Thanks for the chat!
11 April at 08:54 · Like · 1
Roland And you really do like to cling to black and white
11 April at 08:55 · Like
Rosemary Um, I hate racial divisions as much as we all do. It’s just that rainbow nation rhetoric has not changed material reality, and people are still stuck in them – we have to acknowledge that, not deny that. We only have the luxury of denying that these divisions still persist if we are the minority privileged not to be hit in the face with them every day of our lives. The majority of our fellow South Africans continue to experience, and talk about experiencing, this oppression. To tell them they don’t experience this is to disrespect and dismiss their own lived realities and say we know better than them what their reality is. And that, to me, is disgustingly arrogant.
11 April at 09:00 · Edited · Like · 1
Roland Ok. So we listen. I don’t see that that materially (!) changes anything. What do we do?
11 April at 09:11 · Like
Roland And I will, frankly, continue to struggle to listen to the deliberate fascist polarisation inherent in ‘1 settler 1 bullet’.
11 April at 09:15 · Like
Anne Ah, now this is the stuff tertiary education is made of, two UCT alumni in eloquent, intellectual debate. That, ladies and gentleman is how it should be done. No poo flinging here.
11 April at 09:22 · Like · 4
Roland I think that Max du Preez is spot on, particularly the conclusion:
Radicalisation and polarisation: the encroaching threat – Moneyweb
11 April at 09:22 · Like
Roland Flattery will get you everywhere, Annetjie
11 April at 09:23 · Like
Anne Thanks Rosemary Lombard and Roland Paterson-Jones for your insights and wisdom. The atrocities of Apartheid must have been agonising, and yes I was lucky enough to be born who I was. However in my opinion, this is not about race. It is about civil and sensible behaviour. Debates, discussions, peaceful protests, go for it. Faecal flinging, chanting agricultural ammunition targets and reneging on tolerant and progressive agreements with the university, unacceptable. I want someone teaching me who is highly qualified, experienced and wise. Quota systems are unreasonable if candidates are to be elevated above more qualified counterparts. The interesting opportunity here is adding curricula that would broaden the scope of academic expertise and allow a broader selection of course material in both Afro- and Eurocentric studies. I for one am glad that I went with the Eurocentric option for medicine. Goodness knows how many people I could have let down in their health if I had gone with muti and bones option.
11 April at 09:36 · Like · 4
Roland Ha ha I was satisfied with my eurocentric maths and computer science too.
11 April at 10:15 · Like · 1
Roland For full disclosure, I have spent time with a sangoma too, and it was an interesting and positive experience.
11 April at 10:32 · Like · 1
Tanya Agreed Anne!!
11 April at 15:37 · Like
Rosemary “When democracy arrived, the legal barriers tumbled; deep-rooted beliefs that whites are superior did not. The “liberal” universities now had the right to teach who and what they pleased: they used it to keep alive the racial pecking order in a “colour blind” guise. In the early 1990s, sociologist Harold Wolpe warned against a view that white English-language universities were the only “real” institutions of learning and should be left alone to do what they had always done. He argued that they were also products of the past and so they too needed to change.” Really worth a read.
The racial denialism of South African liberals – The Rand Daily Mail
RDM.CO.ZA|BY STEVEN FRIEDMAN
13 April at 09:47 · Like · Remove Preview
Roland Rosemary, are you an academic? Are you prepared to show integrity and resign from your job in order to provide an opportunity for a less privileged person? If not, are you not simply representing the ‘other people must change’ attitude inherent in most of the RMF debate
13 April at 09:51 · Like
Rosemary I’m currently an MPhil student in Heritage and Public Culture, and, yes, thinking about where best to employ my energies after that. If I were to remain in academia, which I probably won’t, it would be in research, on colonial archives and production of knowledge, which is what I am looking at in my thesis – in an attempt to respond to the damaged legacy of those who came before. I wouldn’t feel comfortable taking a teaching post at this juncture.
13 April at 09:57 · Like
Roland Cool, these are tough questions. We all have no choice but to pursue our necessary imperative to stay alive; yet we also have to look more broadly towards our larger environment. I can’t help but observe that Steven Friedman is a pigmentally challenged individual, presuming to represent the experience of others, both formerly privileged, and not. Nowhere do I see him offering a personal experience: for example, “I, as an English speaking South African have been guilty of denial, etc.” Let’s hear some first-person perspective.
13 April at 10:01 · Like
Roland I guess another way to put this: How are you, Rosemary, going to put food on the table, after you have fought so hard for your cultural irrelevance?
13 April at 10:44 · Like
Rosemary Don’t worry yourself about that, Roland, I’m sure I’ll find something useful to do.
13 April at 10:49 · Like · 1
Roland “We had imagined that, after the removal of Rhodes, the vice-chancellor would come back to us and ask… what the plan of action is,” [Chumani Maxwele] said. “But instead we were just woken up by a letter of eviction.”
Are you fucking kidding me? Arrogance personified.
UCT occupiers consider their options – Western Cape | IOL News
13 April at 12:39 · Like
Roland I believe that this is what is colloquially known as ‘stank vir dank’:
“You, Max Price, chose not to engage us like humans. You referred to the black student as a problem,” said the RMF’s Thato Pule.
Occupiers speak out against UCT – Western Cape | IOL News
13 April at 17:14 · Edited · Like
Roland Rosemary, presumably you can give the contrary perspective? I am struggling.
13 April at 17:15 · Like
Rosemary Hey… This is longish, but I think it is really worth a read:
Reason after Liberalism
SACSIS.ORG.ZA|BY RICHARD PITHOUSE
Yesterday at 10:12 · Like ·
Rosemary In fact, read this one first:
South Africa in the Twilight of Liberalism: Richard Pithouse
Yesterday at 10:13 · Like
Roland Hey Rosemary, had a first pass at Richard Pithouse. The first half (about) echos, very strikingly, many observations that I have made very recently, on FB and other online discussion forums. The second half is less familiar, less accessible, and less appealing to me. I am an unapologetic liberal, with bent towards libertarianism, and informed by my casual adherence to (how I understand) buddhist principles.
The problem I have with Richard Pithouse, is that he presents more absence of ideas, than presence of ideas. What is the proposal? Liberalism is bad, we need something else. Why is it bad? Empirically? Perhaps – it certainly hasn’t been widely embraced. So, what are we proposing as the solution?
I had the same problem trying to engage directly with RMF on FB (they have now blocked me and deleted all of my posts). Time and time again, members would reply to me and tell me what (they believed) I was thinking, rather than what they were thinking.
Yesterday at 11:11 · Edited · Like
Roland Stated perhaps more primally, it appears to be human nature to grab what we can, and cling to what we have. It requires considerable religious or cultural principle, contrary to base instincts, to counter that. Communism was exactly an ideology that proposed a radical set of principles to ensure equality. What happened? It turned into yet another vehicle for crass inequality, and oppression of many people. I don’t know what the answer is, or where the answer lies, but I will continue to support what I see, personally, as the best system we have. Yes, IMHO
Yesterday at 11:11 · Edited · Like
Roland Also, “the enduring racism and coloniality of some of our universities” appears to simply be accepted fact. No-one has convinced me that this is fact, despite many pleas. We can take an audit by race group of various stakeholders. That is irrelevant. What is important is equality of opportunity, and the belief that that will eventually allow personal emancipation of anyone willing to buy a ticket. Yes, the abject poverty of much of our population is, itself, a massive barrier. So, how do we tackle that problem?
Yesterday at 11:03 · Edited · Like
Roland How are our universities any more ‘colonial’ than universities in China, Russia, Japan, Korea, America, Brazil?
Yesterday at 11:10 · Like
Roland ‘Black studies for UCT’
Curricular change could prove the most contentious element of UCT’s transformation in the wake of recent…
TIMESLIVE.CO.ZA|BY TANYA FARBER
Yesterday at 11:43 · Like
Roland I would be very interested in the student demographics by faculty. I suspect transformation is lagging in Science/Engineering, and I suspect that that is a reflection on the failure of our primary and secondary education systems (rated worst in the world for science recently).
Yesterday at 11:45 · Like
Yesterday at 11:59 · Like
Roland On the face of it, UCT has had extraordinary success in racial (yuck!) transformation in a single generation.
Yesterday at 12:06 · Like
Roland Rosemary, I challenge you to read this again, and identify aspects of it with which you are not 100% in agreement.
UCT RHODES MUST FALL MISSION STATEMENT
Yesterday at 12:40 · Like
Rosemary I’m 100% behind it.
Yesterday at 13:37 · Like
Rosemary I’ll send you an essay I banged out the other day which mentions a few concrete examples of institutional racism if you PM me your email address. Further than that, I don’t think we’ll see eye to eye if you’re a dyed in the wool liberal with libertarian leanings, so I will tip my hat and bid you adieu.
Yesterday at 13:41 · Like
Roland Fair enough, I’ll as the same questions I posed to RMF:
1. Can you provide precise examples of ‘institutional racism‘ at UCT?
2. Can you provide precise examples of ‘white supremacy and privilege at our campus‘?
3. Can you provide precise examples of how ‘students, workers, academics and interested staff members [are] alienated in their own university‘?
Yesterday at 13:41 · Like
Roland And before you bid me adieu, how would you most precisely describe your personal philosophy of society?
Yesterday at 13:42 · Like
Roland Note that I have actually been more productive than simply labeling myself – I have provided data and interpretation that you are welcome to respond to. If you simply can’t or won’t, based on my self-characterisation then fine – but that is a little hypocritical coming from someone who, just above, referenced Pitthouse quoting Fanon motivating for a new dialogue to establish a new philosophy.
Yesterday at 13:47 · Edited · Like
Roland What are you pro? It’s so easy to be against stuff.
Yesterday at 13:47 · Like
Rosemary I don’t have a word to describe my political orientation, other than a general suspicion of those in power, and how they got to be there.
Yesterday at 13:48 · Like
Roland We have something in common
Yesterday at 13:48 · Like
Rosemary I’m pro the destruction of hierarchies and inequality.
Yesterday at 13:49 · Like
Roland Hmm, anarchist, unless you have a cogent vision for a replacement. I agree, somewhat, in principle. Go well.
Yesterday at 13:51 · Like
Rosemary Not an anarchist because I believe in the rule of God… although not a manmade conception of God.
Yesterday at 13:53 · Edited · Like
Roland Surely not a European God? Just messing with you. As I said, I am more of an agnostic buddhist. I have very little faith (ha!) in societies built on religious law.
Yesterday at 13:55 · Like
Rosemary “Not a manmade conception of God” indicates my lack of faith in human interpretations of God, I thought… so I’m hardly advocating religious rule. Sorry, as I said, my beliefs don’t fit boxes.
Yesterday at 14:41 · Edited · Like
Roland Ok, I’m off to the Burn to take maximum advantage of my elite whitey privilege. I leave tertiary academic libertarianism in your capable hands
Yesterday at 15:15 · Like
Roland From a non-anarchist person of colour: “UCT students, direct benefactors of what Cecil Rhodes made possible, have clamored to remove his statue. Now that its gone, and with it an important, though controversial, aspect of its history.. what now?
Where a distinct statue once stood, now stands nothing. Very symbolic of that UTC Azania stands for.. nothing. Its one thing to know what you’re against.. its quite another to know what you are for. All this energy and vigor spent on a piece of stone could have been channeled to create real change. Like instead of focusing on perceived racism of the last century, the students could have protested the real and ugly racism taking place today across South Africa as people are killed in xenophobic attacks. But its always easier to deface and destroy something that can’t defend itself than to spend the blood, sweat and toil to build something better.
I love all the people of South Africa and say this out of love. You can never build yourself up, but putting someone else down..specially when that someone has been dead for a long time.”
What are you for?
Yesterday at 19:28 · Like
Rosemary This is what I am for. The statue affair has catalysed discussions like this one last night which should have been happening in earnest years ago: https://youtu.be/RCkXeMaaSwU
UCT Panel Discussion: Decolonizing the University
Charting a path forward for anti-sexist and anti-racist scholarship and activism. This discussion was hosted by the Van Zyl Slabbert Visiting Chair, the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and UCT’s SRC and moderated by Prof. Xolela Mangcu on Thursday 23 April 2015.
22 hrs · Like · Remove Preview
Rosemary Listen at 26 minutes to Pumla Gqola. This is the most constructive thing that has happened to UCT in years. I’m really out now. I have nothing further to say on the matter.
22 hrs · Edited · Like
Roland Rose, you have such a narrow perspective. Maths is maths. Engineering is engineering. Medicine is medicine – black people’s bodies look the same to pathologists as white bodies.
If you want to transform your own faculty, then do so, and kudo’s to you. Don’t presume that you speak for the more important pursuits.
As you said, once you are out of varsity, you will find a useful pursuit.
But, society needs scientists – when last did we have 24/7 power to write on FB?
We can do african pottery and weaving together, and even believe it;s important, but in the end, you won’t have electricity to your house, you won’t have water in your taps, you won’t have roads to drive on, you won’t have ‘colonial’ society.
I get that you are a lesbian feminist, just like my mom. But you are being used. Silly girl.
17 hrs · Like
Roland She got to the crux at about 29:00 and then walked away!
17 hrs · Like
Roland Cecil John Rhodes was more gay than straight, for god’s sake.
17 hrs · Like
Roland 33:31 “We are supposed to decolonise gender” – ha ha, “decolonisation” has become the void term for any new personal struggle.
17 hrs · Like
Roland Does anyone in south africa actually know what colonialism is? Apartheid was not colonialsism – the afrikaners had no european master.
17 hrs · Like
Roland Seriously, in Zulu culture, lesbianism is just not cool. Transgender is just not cool. As for you, Rose, just a litany of self-hurt, which, in any non-colonial society would have been a lot more difficult to you all than in learned european society.
16 hrs · Edited · Like
Roland 47:37: “capitalism, patriarchy and racism”. No, that online video is only available, due to technology that your brothers and sisters are learning in the science faculty.
16 hrs · Like
Roland Stop masturbating, Rose.
16 hrs · Like
Roland What the fuck does ‘intersectional‘ actually mean?
16 hrs · Like
Roland Paterson-Jones Sorry, university is not about wanking off about personal experience. It is about important learning. Not about obvious personal sexual proclivities. Seriously, go and wank off on your own.
16 hrs · Like
Roland University is about teaching the important knowledge that really holds our society together. Housing. Food. Water. Electricity. You fucking idiots in humanities will fuck it up for all of us, cos you really don’t get it.
16 hrs · Like
Roland How about you stop toppling statues and focus on maths and science education in primary school?
16 hrs · Like
Roland And yes, I am angry now.
16 hrs · Like
Roland You are an idiot, Rosemary, because you lack perspective.
16 hrs · Like
Roland Patriarchy and the power struggle. Feminist bullshit. Colonialism and the power struggle. Black bullshit.
16 hrs · Like
Roland Rose, you are not old or experienced enough to understand.
16 hrs · Like
Roland One day you will, or else you are going to be a very bitter old woman.
16 hrs · Like
Roland I have six kids. Four of them are teenagers right now. Two of them are legal adults. One of them is studying science at UCT.
Seriously, you guys lack perspective. No matter what ideology you aspire to, no matter what gender or race you aspire to, no matter how much you support the underdog, however you see that in your own mind: You still want water in your taps. You still want electricity in your stove, lights, fridge. You still want a fridge to keep you food fresh. You still want a car to drive. You still want roads to drive on.
How does that all work? Could that, perhaps be colonial influence? European influence? Good science?
Fucking idiots, sorry.
What is your counter-proposal? ‘Intersectionality’? ‘Decolonialism’? ‘Africanism’?
16 hrs · Edited · Like
Roland Rose, you said you wouldn’t be a lecturer, because you were not worthy. But can you take that all the way and be a subsistence farmer? In the true sense of the word. No european technology at all.
15 hrs · Edited · Like
Roland Don’t pretend you are doing society a favour, Rose. Have the courage of your own (lack of) convictions or fuck off. Seriously. Go find how useful you are to society as a white post-colonial feminist intellectual. Respond when you have grown up a bit, perhaps in 5 years?
13 hrs · Like
Rosemary You’re trolling and I don’t appreciate it, Roland. Turning off my notifications now. I would suggest you go somewhere else to rave to yourself about someone you don’t even know, and events you are very far removed from. Sorry Anne for this mess on your wall.
12 hrs · Like
Roland Rose, this is not sexist or racist. You are an idiot. Why? You have no idea how little you know. Like, when you turn the kettle on, what actually happens? When you climb into your car and turn the key, what happens?
You and your friends are dangerous because you make the arrogant assumption that your knowledge is more valuable than that of others. It’s going to be a hard hard lesson for you. Good luck.
12 hrs · Like
Rosemary Don’t patronise me. Nobody is trying to throw out infrastructure and western knowledge. They’re trying to reframe the curriculum and restore the balance. Get a grip on yourself, and leave me alone.
12 hrs · Like
Roland In case I haven’t beeñ.clear. Thànk you, but please don’t decolonize my faculty. Please don’t decolonize my children’s faculties. I believe that will destroy their education.
By all means decolonize your own studies but don’t be so arrogant as to assume you are doing any more than that.
I will leave you alone just as soon as you stop jeapardising my and my children’s future in our country?
Let’s touch base in 5 years. I predict you will have emigrated to europe.
10 hrs · Edited · Like
Roland I am not trolling. You posted the video. It was drivel. You are trying to change my world. I have a right to respond, and particularly a right to be angry. Anne has the right to remove my contributions, and some of them are admittedly personal. Just like the chairperson in your posted video personally buttering up the young feminist you so admire.
Tough, I know, but I think it needs to be heard lest we descend into the same empirical mess that is the rest of (actually) post colonial africa. Hell, even Anne has found a better life in europe.
10 hrs · Like
Roland I think what worries me most is the supremacist irrationality of you, Rosemary, and RMF.
We are right so we don’t even have to engage in dialogue. We don’t know what we want but in the mean time we are going to tear down what we have.
Welcome back to the dark ages.
6 hrs · Like
Anne Roland Paterson-Jones and Rosemary Lombard firstly let me say that I love you both and you both have extraordinary minds. Debate is great but Roland, please do not be rude to my old friend and family member. She has had her own in depth journey to where she is today. She is kind, thoughtful and highly intelligent and is entitled to her opinion. She is not the only proponent for what is happening today. I agree that we would be nowhere in terms of infrastructure and medicine without European science. I think it is diabolical how people are behaving in this revolution. It is my wish that we and society are civil and maintain the intellectual debate and energy to move forward without resorting to insults, damage and violence. I miss South Africa greatly and look forward to returning with better financial footing thanks to the relative strength of the Euro. Roland, I share your frustrations at having your voice removed from the RMF page. I agree with your debates, but please continue to deliver them in a manner that is respectful. I respect Rosemary’s opinion and believe that brave women like her might help us find a way forward in crazy times like this. Rosemary and Roland, be kind to yourselves and each other you beautiful people.
6 hrs · Like · 2
Roland Mea culpa. Apologies.
4 hrs · Like · 1
*not her real name