Posted in book review, 미분류, Film Review, Miscellany

Not impossible

It is supposed to be about being a woman that binds all women regardless of race and ethnicity across a great divide of time. Forget all others and let us focus on the parallel circumstances and kindred experiences as women. But alas, that seems only a tale told by a romantic fool such as I am. If you think this is hyperbole, then I suggest you read the tweets and comments on the recent news that a black actress plays the role of Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry the Eighth and the mother of Elizabeth the First, in the upcoming British periodical drama, which went viral among the learned and the general.  In addition to the vehemently acrid narratives on the racial authenticity of Anne Boleyn – especially from fellow women-, the juxtaposition of the two women’s images, the actress Jodie Turner-Smith and the queen Anne Boleyn itself, belies the popular sentiment as though to mock the actress’s appearance in the fashion of the Tudor period by making parallels with the classical portraiture of the Anne of 1000 days.  It has produced vociferous tweets full of fury from people who regard the role as audacious cultural appropriation faithful to the PC ethos of the time. 

Actress Turner-Smith’s playing the Tudor woman Anne Boleyn is indeed an innovational idea of breaking the typecasting based on the physical distinction for the roles thinkable and conventionally conceivable for the specific attributable characteristics of certain characters. Thus, non-whites playing the roles conceived for whites are seen as usurping the equilibrium of cultural heritage, upending the very foundation of national identity translated into racial identification, a sentiment prevalent even among the professed liberals anti-everything related to Trump, Republicans, and racism. The rejection of the race crossover representation on screen is supposedly due to the difficulty of following the story’s fluid narrative, unable to be absorbed in the story, not least because performers’ distinctive physical attributes mar the harmony of racial fluidity. But do we really?

I have watched a few good dramas (British) in which the races of performers do not pin down them to the racially charged roles. To illustrate, in Benedict Cumberbatch’s Frankenstein, the wife of Victor Frankenstein was played by a black actress. Besides, his father, M. Frankenstein, is a black actor, a fine ensemble of excellent thespians whose energetic performance brought Mary Shelly’s original Gothic story to a theatrical feast to the eyes and the mind. While watching the drama, I was not distracted by the black performers’ appearances being the father and Genevan Victor Frankenstein’s wife. Instead, the powerfully emotional and assiduously methodological performances resurrected the textual characters to real humans, full of pathos with vigor and wonder. Also, British Asian actress Gemma Chan, who played the role of Elizabeth Hardwick in ‘Mary Queen of Scot’s,’ is known for her versatile roles transcending her racial background. Her recent performance as a cyborg with a touch of humanity named Anita in ‘Humans’ is as naturally harmonious as streams of a river flowing into a great ocean, not highlighting her physical differences.

L-R Laura (Katherine Parkinson), and Mia (Gemma Chan) from ‘Humans’

So why the fuss full of sound and fury of the people who cannot accept the black queen in the Tudor drama when they are boastful of the most advanced mind since the age of Enlightenment? In the wake of the global Black Lives Matter movements, people have become afraid of the wind of changes as a frightful tsunami to subvert social foundations, upending the social orders adverse to their belief systems. Although I don’t eschew their concerns for the wind of changes as I am also conservative, not conventional in belief, the current vehemently acrid opinions about the black woman becoming Anne Boleyn are tokens of latent racialized hostility surfaced by the deluged dissents pouring forth from the socially suppressed sentiments. Indeed, you can’t ignore the differences between the two Anne Boleyns. Still, there are more commonalities than the images seen through your optical sensory input: that they are both women of elegance and confidence who are not afraid of expressing what they can. The actress shows she can pull off the character with what she has, and the queen her the courage to confront the criticism for being the cause of subsequent religious turmoil that changed the face of Christendom in spades. Let not prejudice darken entertainment. 

Posted in book review, Miscellany

Elect Sensibility

The wake of Black Lives Matter and subsequent racial justice movements have upended the fundamental quo of society from education to fine arts with full force and effect amid the Pandemic pandemonium. What was once a work of art is not art any longer if it is suspected of socially inappropriate. The Dawn of Brave New World looms large as the storm of revolution sweeps across schools’ hallways and the galleries of museums. Now the Reckoning Force stops paintings outside their racial principles and social taste in the case of Philip Guston Now.

According to Julia Friedman’s recent essay about the artist’s paintings mentioned above, museums delayed exhibition worldwide until 2024. The woke culture tries to dominate the arts and humanities like Orwellian leviathan censoring the artistic expressions to curtail them into their Brave New World puritanical disciplines, breeding their types of artists conforming to the abstract figurative standards of ideological art. But that is what the directors of the NGA, Boston MFA, Tate Modern, and Huston MFA have done, holding off Guston’s 24 images from the 19060s and early 70s, which evoke imagery of the Ku Klux Klan through buffo depictions of hooded figures. In terms of the newspeak, the subject matter of the paintings in hooded robes implicate that Guston is a racist who exposes the vulnerable, the most eggshell sensitive viewers of non-whites, especially blacks, to “incendiary and toxic racist imagery” regardless of the intention of the artist.

In her essay, Friedman opines that a lack of intellectual vigor on Guston’s subject paintings’ contextualization fails to protect the artistic license, but I differ from her opinion. Art is not for the practical analysis of sensibility, nor a vehement statement of a political campaign or social agenda. Art is an ultimate expression of the individual soul with universal appeal to all human creatures regarding principles of judgment and sentiment common to all humankind. In this sense, shaking the foundations of all social institutions and governing individuals’ Sense and Sensitivity are no less damaging than the dictatorship of minds. Just because you in with the Movement does mean you should conform to what they tell you to think and like. Artists should not hurry their imaginations with public affairs at the moment of creation. Stop patronizing the public what to like and how to think. Let us judge them on our own. Let art be for art’s sake.

Posted in book review, Miscellany

Philosophical investigation of education

“I’ll teach you differences,” said King Lear as his motto of philosophical investigations in Shakespeare’s eponymous play. I imagine the ghost of King Lear would utter it again when he deigned to come to our realities of universities in this time. The importance of responsible education to remove the social ills and carbuncles resulting from dissentious political domination has never been more conspicuously called for in our high learning institutions as a recent consequence of the George Floyd incident, and the following the Black Lives Matter movement. However, this doesn’t mean that universities should be a breeding ground for training gladiators equipped with political syllabuses and dogmatic agendas to fight against the public foes. Instead, education should disabuse the ignorance of the unenlightened for our society’s universal betterment.

Professor Benjamin Y. Fong, in his NY Times article “Teaching Racial Justice isn’t Racial Justice,” addressed the issue of education as the fighting tool. It has become fashionable that most American universities have competingly added courses on social injustice to the Black Lives Matter movement. However, the idea of education is to provide students opportunities to learn and actively engage with conflicting thoughts and various real-life issues in a place enriched with knowledge linked with the fellow members of the human race from antiquity. In this environment, a university is a place for education that can improve social conditions in the fight against social, political carbuncles, not for the battle itself, training students for social gladiators.

Many universities are focused on the quantitative quota of educational syllabuses aimed for the universities’ reputations as the most liberal and forward-thinking higher-learning institutions for the socially recognized prestige, not the qualitative aspect of the education of the minds. It is not the textual syllabuses filled with political ideologies and social campaigns. Still, the practical teaching of various conservative and progressive considerations enables students to incorporate the learning to their perspectives. Education serves to articulate ideas based on the standard of reason and taste universal in all human creatures regarding the principles of judgment and sentiment common to all humankind.

Suppose we want our higher learning institutions to remedy the existing ills of our social and political realities by implementing more social justice courses. In that case, we must first understand the fact that education itself is not the fight itself. Neither Plato’s academy nor Aristotle’s lyceum was a place for the battle against the absurdities of Man. Or even the beloved, peripatetic Socrates did not use his open universities in Athens as a place for campaigning against the government hostile to his philosophy. Remember that there is no new thing under the sun as long as we as the collective enterprise called Humanity continue to voyage in the Universe.

Posted in book review, Miscellany

Let Children out of Politics.

There has been a vortex of fiery opinions on the controversial Netflix film “Cuties,” directed by French Senegalese Maimouna Maimouna Doucoure as her debut feature. I first heard of the movie while checking on Twitter feed filled with vehement subjective narratives divided -yet again-by the in-vogue trend of racially charged political views, which seems to blur the ambit of art for art’s sake appealing to the universal audience. But the unified viewpoint on the provocative representation of sexualized pre-adolescent girls weighs against the film’s thematic slogan of liberation from oppression, come what may.

The movie has gained a cult status among self-professed progressive keyboard warriors, defenders of social inequality, when in fact, they are seldom in contact with the people they speak for or even get together in their daily lives. That said, the movie has become something of a visual manifesto of social activism, rather than a joy of cinematic experience that bestows a sensory pleasure and mental piquancy on viewers. No pornification and the misguided display of sexual oppression in children’s figures can be sublimated into art. Children are not a medium of political efficacy or a vehicle of personal ambition. The sexualization of children imitating adult acts is counter-productive in translating onto screen per se the socially disfranchised class consciousness in a highly secular society where the income level defines individuals’ worth. Little girls in skimpy attires, gyrating and eyeing in a way that makes them the cult of Ishtar at a Babylonian temple where girls offer their bodies to strange men for holy prostitution. Or shall I say it is a revisionist adaption of “Pretty Baby” or “Lolita” directed by a black woman whose directorial debut is undoubtedly impressive and provocative in the BLM wake?

It amazes me to see people think themselves rational and reasonable when they are just self-professed egoists illustrated with their ostentatiously abstract view of social reality that seems to be out of touch with their own class. They regard “Cuties” as telltale cinematic radical feminism and socialism with a view to liberation by the parody of the reality. However, these intellectuals oversee or willfully ignore the truth about human nature: physical, rather than metaphysical; it is tactile rather than theoretical. Our faculty of mind is affected by the works of the senses and of the imaginations. To this effect, ‘Cuties” will adversely affect people’s judgment when their eyes direct toward the visual feast of perverted pleasure because the impulse, when arisen by stimuli, defeats Ego, voids the Superego, and commandeers false promise of liberation with rapacious sensuality.

Posted in Miscellany

Gaslighting

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There is no more wondrously enigmatic than a man, as betokened in the Spinx’s riddle about the metamorphosis of a man from a quadruped to a tripod. A metaphysical shapeshifter, an astute apprentice to whatever entity is deemed promising, a man is by nature spiritually tenuous in its consistency of adhering to principles of Reason. Concerning the duplicitous nature of a man, no one but Albert Einstein has perspicacious knowledge about human nature. Einstein himself was a genuinely curious admixture of polarities: mad, smart, indifferent, humane, distinguished, ordinary, failing, and excelling, without a hint of arrogance in a semblance of condescendence ingratiating himself with the populace. Accordingly, I find his wise sayings apposite to the several swings of things I have seen in every spectrum of daily life.

The fallacy of human judgment deprived of sensitivity that is apparent in most of the social phenomena aptly applies to Einstein’s following adage: “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity.” A man knows one thing but disregards the other in the glorified appellation of a lofty cause of elevated human dignity that people are likely to oversee in the ordinary daily landscape. To illustrate, the current campaign against the systematic police brutality in the wake of the deaths of George Floyd and Michael Brown is indubitably just and noble in its effort of ending the institutionalized racism in the States. However, the people actively involved in the movement – politicians, activists, celebrities, and the rest of the populace – do not seem to include the feelings of others who are socially outcast whom they can see everywhere in the daily landscape.

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The category of the weak and the persecuted should not be limited to people of particular creed or race. Still, it should also encompass those who suffer from daily persecutions by their superiors, peers, and even family members in that relaxed and light-heartedly enforced “Just a job,” “Just a kidding,” or “just a passion of the moment,” which doesn’t mean much. This disguised bullying is an illustration of “Gaslighting,” manipulating someone by callously and sordidly psychological means into doubting his or her sanity when it does not fault the faculty of the mind. The spirit of the victims of gaslighting is only too acute and perceptible to ignore, and the result of the virtuous endurance of socially acceptable bullying is the high rate of suicide and mental illness that people tend to overlook.

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The slogan of “Black Life Matters’ itself indicates the ignorance of other lives as well in the sense that it only promotes the dignity of specific people. Whereas, many other people are subject to daily mistreatment of individualities and dignities based on personal differences in external elements and dispositions that make them distinguished from the majority. Take the fictional Arthur Fleck, the wretched man behind the mask of Joker. Fleck is a victim of abuses that have stunned his growth into a confident individual finding meaning in life. Instead, because of his timid appearance dubbed in fumbling mannerism, Fleck is a subject of ridicule, a good-for-nothing clown whom all the members of society regardless of race and gender from top to bottom taunt and ignore. His invisibility caused by ignorance of people carries him over the edge of his sanity. However, people love to hate him, accuse him of being a villain to wreak havoc on the innocent people loved by all. What’s appalling about the plenary inquisition of Fleck is that it happens in the reality of life where many suffer from the inward pain of separation and misunderstanding from the society that is supposed to protect them. The community turns its back on the nameless individuals who do not fit into the social category of the Weak.

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The fatuous conception of social equality is then null and void in advocating the well-being of the weak in all aspects of social life. The definition of the weak includes all who feel vulnerable, prone to emotional scars callously inflicted by the brutes of the sense. The Twitter Community, for instance, is the most exclusive of all other social media under the disguise of the magnificent liberality of free opinions. It can hurt the soft-spoken and people of delicate constitution trying to find a supportive community where they can share and spread knowledge regardless of elitist discrimination. The high number of followers is the prerequisite of respectability in the digital social meritocracy. The insularity of each community from within is reminiscent of Salem, the island of the lords of flies, and other subliminal lands of nowhere you are likely to imagine in SC-Fi fictions. The viscosity of educational achievements, social appellation, and physical appearance decides the affability of your tweets, making you endear to the qualification of the followers that your twitter pal has amassed. The more unique tweets are, the less popular they are. Forget the lexical queerness due to different linguistic families. The tweets denoting solipsistic musings or solitude in sadness are not welcome. In other words, tweets should be as delightful as an ascending lark. Otherwise, they will not even bother to read your considerate tweets.

The stupidity of people amazes me in every possible variety of forms and degrees, and the reaction to their reflection is all the more mesmerizing in superb wonderment. I wonder if people know that when they champion one cause, they are also excluding the other, which is closer to where they live and work. On the train, on the bus, in stores, in offices, people are ignoring the weak. All of this is the comedy of errors, the infinite stupidity of humans. Einstein saw and knew it, and I am confident that he continues to see it with his arms folded, looking down upon his posterity from his chair of knowledge of the eternal universe, and say, “I told you so.”

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