Sunday, August 31, 2008

i cringe when i see hipsters

To me most hipsters seem to be rich, white, privileged kids who have nothing better to do than to dress like idiots and make pretentious poses all day. Since they have gallons upon gallons of privilege running in their blood system they also don't care about anything that goes on outside of their own little partying, fashionable world. I've seen these loathsome creatures in many cities and towns, and they're all the same.

Some damning excerpts from an adbusters article:

...hipsters are sold what they think they invent and are spoon-fed their pre-packaged cultural livelihood.

Hipsterdom is the first “counterculture” to be born under the advertising industry’s microscope, leaving it open to constant manipulation but also forcing its participants to continually shift their interests and affiliations. Less a subculture, the hipster is a consumer group – using their capital to purchase empty authenticity and rebellion. But the moment a trend, band, sound, style or feeling gains too much exposure, it is suddenly looked upon with disdain. Hipsters cannot afford to maintain any cultural loyalties or affiliations for fear they will lose relevance.

An amalgamation of its own history, the youth of the West are left with consuming cool rather that creating it. The cultural zeitgeists of the past have always been sparked by furious indignation and are reactionary movements. But the hipster’s self-involved and isolated maintenance does nothing to feed cultural evolution. Western civilization’s well has run dry. The only way to avoid hitting the colossus of societal failure that looms over the horizon is for the kids to abandon this vain existence and start over.

We are a lost generation, desperately clinging to anything that feels real, but too afraid to become it ourselves. We are a defeated generation, resigned to the hypocrisy of those before us, who once sang songs of rebellion and now sell them back to us. We are the last generation, a culmination of all previous things, destroyed by the vapidity that surrounds us. The hipster represents the end of Western civilization – a culture so detached and disconnected that it has stopped giving birth to anything new.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

i had a dream

...that I had tons of homework to do, essays to write, readings to complete, and I actually felt motivated to do it all instead of not doing any of my work (until the last minute usually...if at all), but it was still stressful just to think about it all. I couldn't handle thinking about all the schoolwork I had to do!

AND THEN I WOKE UP! And I remembered that I'm NOT in university anymore. AND IT FELT GREAT! Then I turned my head and went back to sleep smiling.

It felt wonderful. alhumds. I am so lucky to basically have 4-5 months to myself and be able to do whatever the hell I want to do. As my mum said, we have the rest of our lives to work (fanks mum for not making me get a job right away). I'm not an idiot though - don't worry I know what I'm doing (hopefully).

5 weeks to India...

Review of "Palestine" by Joe Sacco

Palestine first appeared as a series of nine comic books, but is collected here in a special edition that also includes a foreword by the late Edward Said and an introduction by the author. Sacco writes that he was compelled to visit the Palestinian territories for two main reasons. First, he realized that the taxpayer dollars he paid as an American were being spent in financial aid to Israel, perpetuating the occupation. Second, after pursuing a degree in journalism, he became aware as to the one-sided and inadequate nature of the conflict. After falling out of regular journalism, Sacco became a cartoonist, and it is this medium through which he represents his wanderings in the occupied territories during two and half months in the winter of 1991-1992.

Each chapter, which represents the original series of nine comic books, contains a number of "episodes" or vignettes, detailing the stories that Sacco hears through his interviews with various Palestinians, and the experiences he has in the refugee camps. The topics of these vignettes range from the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes and land in 1948, the intifada, jobs, checkpoints and roadblocks, living conditions in the camps, women's rights, and the peace process. The episodes concerning three men's prison experiences in Ansar III are particularly moving. Mentions of Arab/Israeli politics are scarce and often are included only in footnotes. The book is concerned, above all, with Palestinians living day-to-day under occupation.

Sacco's style varies throughout the book. As he notes in his introduction, in the beginning, he was uncomfortable drawing on a daily basis. It shows in the early chapters, where both Palestinians and Israelis appear in a rather negative light, looking almost monstrous. However, in the rest of the book, Sacco seems to have figured out a few things, and his drawings look more like regular people. He also is flexible in his formatting. Some pages follow a panel format, some are nearly taken up with writing, while others consist of half-page or full-page drawings with few words. I found that the most absorbing parts of Palestine are those when there are only a few words or none at all. For those who have never read a graphic novel or who are curious to see what Sacco's drawings look like, I have included a few examples of Sacco's drawings here (click on title of this entry).

Sacco notes in his introduction that the biggest criticism leveled against his work is that it is too one-sided. But he explains that that was his purpose - "My contention was and remains that that the Israeli government's point of view is very well represented in the mainstream American media and is trumpeted loudly, even competitively, by almost every person holding an important elected office in the United States...My idea was not to present an objective book but an honest one." Most of the book takes place in the West Bank or Gaza, and most of the Israelis represented are those seen most often through the Palestinians' eyes: the settlers and the soldiers. The exception is in the very last chapter, when Sacco visits Tel Aviv. His drawings and conversations with two Israeli women there provide a stark contrast to the rest of the book.

Overall, this book turned out to be a very effective and interesting (if somewhat depressing) portrayal of the Palestinians' plight. In fact, I was surprised at how effective it was, but in a way, it makes sense. Politics and social justice issues in general can be complex and confusing, but a medium like the comic is often viewed as instantly understandable. The drawings - what Sacco calls "comics journalism" - provide a relatively easy avenue by which to access and develop an understanding of the Palestinians' concerns. Several years have passed since Sacco first visited the occupied territories and published these comics in their original form, but they are still highly relevant and comprise a significant piece of work. Highly, highly recommended. (I also highly recommend reading Sacco’s introduction for those who are unfamiliar with graphic novels or who are interested in learning about his methodology.)


Tuesday, August 12, 2008


From EI:

In his powerful 2002 poem, "A State of Siege," written during the Israeli siege of Ramallah, after talking of the sixth sense that allows him to skillfully escape shells, Darwish takes time to address the very Israeli soldiers shelling his neighborhood:

You, standing at the doorsteps, come in
And drink with us our Arabic coffee
For you may feel that you are human like us;

To the killer: If you had left the fetus thirty days,
Things would've been different:
The occupation may end, and the toddler may not remember the time
of the siege,
and he would grow up a healthy boy,
and study the Ancient history of Asia,
in the same college as one of your daughters.
And they may fall in love.
And they may have a daughter (who would be Jewish by birth).
What have you done now?
Your daughter is now a widow,
and your granddaughter is now orphaned?
What have you done to your scattered family,
And how could you have slain three pigeons with the one bullet?