Graham Harman: Objects and the Arts
This made my morning.
Visionary Artist Emma Kunz
Her pieces were never meant to be displayed on a museum wall, but to lie on the floor between Kunz and one of her patients, functioning as healing diagrams and aids to meditation.
“Everything happens in accordance with a specific system of law, which I feel within me, and which never allows me to rest.”
The troubling viral trend of the “hilarious” Black poor person
May 7, 2013
Charles Ramsey, the man who helped rescue three Cleveland women presumed dead after going missing a decade ago, has become an instant Internet meme. It’s hardly surprising—the interviews he gave yesterday provide plenty of fodder for a viral video, including memorable soundbites (“I was eatin’ my McDonald’s”) and lots of enthusiastic gestures. But as Miles Klee and Connor Simpson have noted, Ramsey’s heroism is quickly being overshadowed by the public’s desire to laugh at and autotune his story, and that’s a shame. Ramsey has become the latest in a fairly recent trend of “hilarious” black neighbors, unwitting Internet celebrities whose appeal seems rooted in a “colorful” style that is always immediately recognizable as poor or working-class.
Before Ramsey, there was Antoine Dodson, who saved his younger sister from an intruder, only to wind up famous for his flamboyant recounting of the story to a reporter. Since Dodson’s rise to fame, there have been others: Sweet Brown, a woman who barely escaped her apartment complex during a fire last year, and Michelle Clarke, who couldn’t fathom the hailstorm that rained down in her hometown of Houston, and in turn became “the next Sweet Brown.”
Granted, the buzzworthy tactic of reporters interviewing the most loquacious witnesses to a crime or other event is nothing new, and YouTube has countless examples of people of all ethnicities saying ridiculous things. One woman, for instance, saw fit to casually mention her breasts while discussing a local accident, while another man described a car crash with theatrical flair. Earlier this year, a “hatchet-wielding hitchhiker” named Kai matched Dodson’s fame with his astonishing account of rescuing a woman from a racist attacker. But none of those people have been subjected to quite the same level of derisive memeification as Brown, Clark, and now, perhaps, Ramsey—the inescapable echoes of “Hide yo’ kids, hide yo’ wife!” and “Kabooyaw,” the tens of millions of YouTube hits and cameos in other viral videos, even commercials.
It’s difficult to watch these videos and not sense that their popularity has something to do with a persistent, if unconscious, desire to see black people perform. Even before the genuinely heroic Ramsey came along, some viewers had expressed concern that the laughter directed at people like Sweet Brown plays into the most basic stereotyping of blacks as simple-minded ramblers living in the “ghetto,” socially out of step with the rest of educated America. Black or white, seeing Clark and Dodson merely as funny instances of random poor people talking nonsense is disrespectful at best. And shushing away the question of race seems like wishful thinking.
Ramsey is particularly striking in this regard, since, for a moment at least, he put the issue of race front and center himself. Describing the rescue of Amanda Berry and her fellow captives, he says, “I knew something was wrong when a little pretty white girl ran into a black man’s arms. Something is wrong here. Dead giveaway!”
The candid statement seems to catch the reporter off guard; he ends the interview shortly afterward. And it’s notable that among the many memorable things Ramsey said on camera, this one has gotten less meme-attention than most. Those who are simply having fun with the footage of Ramsey might pause for a second to actually listen to the man. He clearly knows a thing or two about the way racism prevents us from seeing each other as people.
Now that you know this is a thing, please stop sharing these memes. Poor Black people speaking candidly about various serious incidents isn’t a hilarious joke.
the sound kind of sucks on this, but spot on nonetheless.
That tendency to betray, to lie, and to be perfectly frank. To hide away or show yourself too much. That care in guarding yourself so much that you end up telling your entire life story, your own truth with all the minute details, to a complete stranger. Those desires to flee, to run away when someone shows they’re beginning to understand you, though you haven’t revealed anything. That fear of staying. That indomitable desire for someone and not to be with anybody. To wrap caresses up in words. Those desires to change without giving anything up. That hunger for impossibilities. How to think of this contradictory confusion? It’s truth and lies, it’s good and it’s bad and there is no escape.
Nothing to do. Have a glass of water.
Recipes for Sad Women by Héctor Abad
George Saunders, “Tenth of December”, Talks at Google
If you are a writer, a lover of language, this is a must see. the Q&A is worth the time.
“I am not trying to seem resistant to influences. I merely note that I have always been a poor reader, incurably inattentive, on the look-out for an elsewhere. And I think I can say, in no spirit of paradox, that the reading experiences which have affected me most are those that were best at sending me off to that elsewhere… I felt at home—too much so… I remember feeling disturbed by the imperturbable aspect of his approach. I am wary of disasters that let themselves be recorded like statements of account.”
— Samuel Beckett on reading Kafka, from The Letters of Samuel Beckett 1941-1956