Blues Legacies and Black Feminism by Angela Davis

Playbill for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, 1984. https://nmaahc.si.edu/LGBTQ/ma-rainey Covering subjects outside the mainstream of early twentieth century swing and jazz music, the blues point to more than one kind of voice involved in the act of telling. Angela Davis suggests a multiplicity and fluidity prohibited by the homogenizing structuring of narration and community in mainstream music.[1] Through… Continue reading Blues Legacies and Black Feminism by Angela Davis

The trouble with digitizing archives

Home occupied by General Lawton during his official residence in the islands: Malate, Manila—1899, Philippine Photographs Digital Archive, Special Collections Research Center, University of Michigan. There are several methods to organize documents. One of them asks what a document means; whether it is true, authentic or forged; whether it can be understood as a trace… Continue reading The trouble with digitizing archives

Professor Salamanca and the prospect of American Studies in the Philippines

Bonifacio Salamanca's profile in American Studies International. One of the articles I unearthed while researching for my literature review last semester was Professor Bonifacio Salamanca’s article on the attempt to institute a Department of American Studies at the University of the Philippines. Salamanca received his Ph.D. in American Studies in the early 1950s from Yale… Continue reading Professor Salamanca and the prospect of American Studies in the Philippines

Sudden Death (Alvaro Enrigue, 2016)

A duel between Caravaggio and Quevedo, or how a tennis match connects worlds. Sudden Death by Álvaro Enrigue, Natasha Wimmer (Translator), Hardcover, 272 pages, Published February 9th 2016 by Riverhead Books (first published November 2013) Since when did people actually play tennis? And since when have tennis shoes been around, today the most socially acceptable and most… Continue reading Sudden Death (Alvaro Enrigue, 2016)

The Outsider Speaking for the Other

            A serial reading of Andre Breton, Sigmund Freud, Frantz Fanon, Rosalind Krauss and Hal Foster, might give the impression of a direct intellectual lineage. That’s not what I’m going to do here. I’d like to think of this as a commentary from the sidelines; of what would have been possible had these thinkers sat… Continue reading The Outsider Speaking for the Other

Notable Lectures on Zoom

Le Massacre de Scio ("The Chios massacre") a painting (1824) by Eugène Delacroix depicting the massacre of Greeks on the island of Chios by Ottoman troops during the Greek War of Independence in 1822. Indonesia's Genocide: New Perspectives 55 Years On hosted by New York Southeast Asia Network, Oct 7, 2020, 8 PM EST I treat the study of… Continue reading Notable Lectures on Zoom

The Metamorphosis of Narcissus as a Great Artist

on Karl Ove Knausgaard's profile of Anselm Kiefer Anselm Kiefer in front of his work ‘Ages of the World’ (2014) I first saw Anselm Kiefer’s artwork as an art student in Berlin nine years ago. It was the same fighter plane made from sheets of lead described by Karl Ove Knaussgard in his New York… Continue reading The Metamorphosis of Narcissus as a Great Artist

Notes on not publishing a book from a really extremist ultra-leftist

Guy Debord's Biography in 45 Notes Guy Louis Debord (/dəˈbɔːr/; French: [gi dəbɔʁ]; 28 December 1931 – 30 November 1994) Think of how your book would look if you published a book. If it looks anything like any other book, do not publish that book.If by some reason you think of a book that has… Continue reading Notes on not publishing a book from a really extremist ultra-leftist

The decollage we live in

It’s hard to explain, even to myself, why an artwork from more than fifty years ago can speak to our time without resorting to clichéd notions of the timelessness and universality of artistic language. I try to think of concrete experiences that can constitute a right mindset to write about Jacques Villegle, a Parisian artist… Continue reading The decollage we live in

Villem Flusser on Artistic Freedom

With his statements in Towards a Philosophy of Photography, Vilém Flusser opened a new understanding of photography, and gave the term a new meaning. While he describes the photograph as a “flyer-like image distributed by the apparatus,” the Photographer for Flusser was a critic; a gadfly: “a person who attempts to place within the image,… Continue reading Villem Flusser on Artistic Freedom

A romance in the provinces (Kornel Filipowicz, 2017)

I just read A romance of provinces (1960), by the Polish poet, novelist and screenwriter Kornel Filipowicz (1913-1990), who was for more than twenty years, and until his death, life partner (each one, in his house) by the poet Wislawa Szymborska (1923-2012), Nobel Prize for Literature in 1996. The affinity of worlds and tones is… Continue reading A romance in the provinces (Kornel Filipowicz, 2017)

The Freedom of the Migrant: Objections to Nationalism (Vilém Flusser, 2013)

Vilém Flusser, a philosopher and communication theorist born in Prague in 1920, spent most of his life in exile. In 1940 he reached London on the run from the Nazis, from there he went to São Paulo after only a short time to settle in France in the early 1970s. He never saw his native city of… Continue reading The Freedom of the Migrant: Objections to Nationalism (Vilém Flusser, 2013)

Havelock in the Boondocks

 Parts of P.Oxy. LII 3679, 3rd century, containing fragments of Plato's Republic. Many accounts of Homer's life circulated in classical antiquity, the most prevalent being that he was a blind bard from Ionia, in present-day Turkey. His biography, written by Pseudo-Herodotus is now considered legend, the story of a blind man trapped in eternal darkness, being led to a… Continue reading Havelock in the Boondocks

Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Sympathizer (2015)

Viet Thanh Nguyen's novel begins The Sympathizer with a riddle “I am a spy, a sleeper, a spook, a man with two faces”. What is he? Might we ask. The line was spoken by a double agent working for the North Vietnamese Communists as well as for the United States during and shortly after the… Continue reading Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Sympathizer (2015)

Tales for winter nights

Reading some of Olga Tokarczuk greatest hits Polish author Olga Tokarczuk once compared her books to music videos. This analogy applies both to her collection of short stories and novels: They are self-contained, and the narratives are dense and short, so there is not even a moment of digression. The narratives vividly construct imaginative vignettes of ordinary… Continue reading Tales for winter nights

Walter Benjamin’s Breadmaking

On the versatile interests of Walter Benjamin and making a living out of writing Walter Benjamin's membership card for the Bibliothèque nationale de France (1940). While revisiting some passages in Radio Benjamin published by Verso in 2014, I realized that I never once examined Walter Benjamin’s variegated interests. Specifically, how and why do his works… Continue reading Walter Benjamin’s Breadmaking

North Atlantic White

A color walk piece inspired by William Burroughs. Originally written for Emmanuel Iduma's class on narrative criticism. One similarity that struck me with Burroughs and a Filipino painter named Juan Luna is that they both killed their wives. In Luna it was the heat of passion and jealousy but for Burroughs it was the blur… Continue reading North Atlantic White

Maria Ressa temporarily arrested, again

Journalist Maria Ressa reports critically on the drug war of President Rodrigo Duterte. The authorities accuse her of slander as specified.The government-critical Filipino journalist Maria Ressa has been temporarily arrested six weeks after her release. "I'm being treated like a criminal, even though my only crime is to be an independent journalist," Ressa told reporters… Continue reading Maria Ressa temporarily arrested, again

The Buru Quartet (Pramoedya Ananta Toer 1980-1988)

The Buru Quartet refers to the the volumes Bumi Manusia ("This Earth of Mankind", 1980) , Anak Semua Bangsa ("Child of All Nations", 1980), Jejak Langkah ("Footsteps", 1985) and Rumah Kaca ("Glass House ", 1988). The books were banned by the regime of long time Indonesian president Suharto and his successor B.J. Habibie. The ban… Continue reading The Buru Quartet (Pramoedya Ananta Toer 1980-1988)