Monday, February 28, 2011

No excuse

I simply don’t understand why anyone engaged in intellectual work should choose to restrict access to their ideas to a privileged audience. Perhaps I feel so strongly about this because I am myself situated outside the academy. I’m not naive — of course I understand that intellectual and indeed creative economies depend in part on people paying for books, journal subscriptions, and so on. But I believe that any scholar whose work is directly or indirectly supported by public funding should feel an ethical obligation to make the products of that work broadly accessible. The obligation is particularly acute in the Caribbean, where excellent libraries and bookshops are few. In the year 2011, anyone who can use a basic word processor can set up a simple website. There’s no excuse for not using the medium to advance the democracy of ideas.

— That’s me, singing an old song, in a conversation with Kelly Baker Josephs (“The Democracy of Ideas”) published in the February 2011 sx salon.

It appears in a special discussion section on “Caribbean Arts and Culture Online”, which also includes contributions by Geoffrey Philp, Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert and Ivette Romero-Cesareo, Frederic Marc, and Edwin STATS Houghton and Rishi Bonneville.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Small / champions

small champions pure and trim

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Les maîtres

Who established the Truths governing Art? Who?
The Masters. They had no right to do so and it is dishonest to concede this power to them.

— Erik Satie, from a text written on the cover of the manuscript notebook for Mort de Socrate.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tomorrow and the world

Some further thoughts on reading Martin Carter and watching recent events in Egypt, published this week in the CRB.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Notes on Egypt

I switched off Al Jazeera and ignored Twitter for fifteen minutes, trying to get something written, and I missed it. By the time I plugged back in, people were already celebrating in the streets of Cairo.

As I type this, it’s more than three hours since Hosni Mubarak’s resignation-by-proxy. Right now I’m watching and hearing hundreds of thousands of people — millions, for all I know — singing and dancing, waving flags, setting off fireworks and aerosol torches. I am six thousand miles away, and finding it hard to get back to work.

The Wall Street Journal reporter Tamer El-Ghobashy, via Twitter:

soldier, away from crowds, on cell phone, crying: "mom, i want to celebrate with the people"

Martin Carter: “Mankind is breeding heroes every day.”

The Jamaican writer Marlon James, via Facebook:

“I never thought in my lifetime that these words would mean anything to me, but goddamn it, Power To The People.”

Al Jazeera reporter Jamal Elshayyal, on the celebrations in Alexandria:

“... every meaning of the word hope.”

I find myself thinking that the nearest equivalent to this mass euphoria that I’ve ever seen in my own country was when Trinidad and Tobago qualified for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. I ponder this. I think about all the ways that my country is nothing like Egypt. I think about why I’ve been so anxiously, obsessively following events six thousand miles away over the past eighteen days. I think about my own jadedness and alienation from the political realities of my here and now.

I think about Martin Carter’s phrase, “a free community of valid persons,” and its four difficult words. Free. Community. Valid. Persons.

Freedom, community, validity, and personhood are all hard work.

Six thousand miles away, it is hard to get back to work.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The right to the unknown

don't know what will happen. pre #Jan25 I could predict tomorrow will be like today and yesterday, we revolt to gain the right to unkown

— Alaa Abd El Fattah, @alaa
Da, chital

There’s a way in Russian of saying that you’ve read something without specifying that you've completed it. Think about how nice a distinction that would be to have at one’s fingertips! Did you read that book? Yes, I did. (Da, chital, which, I suppose, if you want to get technical, would mean something like, “Yes, I engaged in the activity of reading,” without particular reference to one stage of it or another, especially its completion.)

Russell Scott Valentino, at the Iowa Review blog.