Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Thursday, July 8, 2010
From David Buuck
some bay area films & readings that may be of interest (far from exhaustive, and compiled off the top of my head while away from my shelves...) (many of these i have to lend or screen or xerox if anyone's interested)
-Chan is Missing (great faux-noir indie set in 80s Chinatown)
-The Huey P Newton Story (Spike Lee's film of Roger Smith's one-man show - really super)
-The Joy of Life (wow. amazing.)
-Straight outta Hunters Point (ok doc)
-The Fall of the I-Hotel (great Curtis Choy doc on tenants-rights movement in 70s Manilatown, esp paired w Karen Tei Yamashita's giant new novel I-Hotel). also Choy's What's Wrong with Frank Chin?
SF of course has a great underground film tradition, from Bruce Conner's Hells Angels and Nuke flix to Craig Baldwin's politicized mash-ups. Konrad Steiner, local filmmaker, curator & impressario, can often get his hands on 35 mm reels from Canyon Cinema if anyone wants to do a screening night. Konrad also has his own great flim-essay on SF in the spirit of LA plays itself.
well, there's a plenty. Outside of the many (often 'political' to some degree) poetry & experimental fiction traditions & scenes (Beats, SF Ren, Bolinas, La Raza, New Narrative, How(ever), Language, Kearny Street, Analytic Lyric, poets theater, etc etc), one might check out:
Reclaiming San Francisco: History, Politics, Culture (A City Lights Anthology) by James Brook, Chris Carlsson, and Nancy J. Peters (a great collection & wide range of user-friendly material)
The Country in the City: The Greening of the San Francisco Bay Area by Richard Walker
No There There: Race, Class, and Political Community in Oakland by Chris Rhomberg
The Second Gold Rush: Oakland and the East Bay in World War II by Marilynn S. Johnson
On the Lower Frequencies by Erick Lyle (amazing shadow histories of anti-gentrification/punk/squat culture in 90s SF)
Rebecca Solnit, Hollow City (on dot-com gentrification in SF)
Kay Boyle, The San Francisco Strike (excellent engaged new journalism re panthers & 69 sfsu student strike, esp as to when-why-which faculty decide to side w students vs admin)
187 Reasons Mexicanos Can't Cross the Border: Undocuments 1971-2007 by Juan Felipe Herrera
Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, 1910-1940 by Him Mark Lai, Genny Lim, and Judy Yung
new world border, ethno-techno, etc., by Guillermo Gómez-Peña (& cf his website www.pochanostra.com
Painting on the Left: Diego Rivera, Radical Politics, and San Francisco's Public Murals by Anthony W. Lee
Nowtopia: How Pirate Programmers, Outlaw Bicyclists, and Vacant-Lot Gardeners are Inventing the Future Today! by Chris Carlsson
Adam Fortunate Eagle, et al, Alcatraz! Alcatraz! (on AIM occupation)
This War Called Love, by Alejandro Murguia (Mission District stories)
Michelle Tea, Valencia (MIssion District stories)
Peter Plate, various (dirty realist squatter noir)
there are many more that other locals could perhaps suggest?
I also have PDF of Richard Walker essay if anyone wants me to send:
"The Boom and the Bombshell: The New Economy Bubble and the SF Bay Area" from _The Changing Economic Geography of Globalization_, ed. G.Vertova, 2006 and also his "Oakland: Dark Star in an expanding universe," (draft/unpub, 1997) is free at http://www.deepoakland.org/text?id=128
also: check out the rest of deepoakland.org !
and there's the black panther legacy tour which i believe is no more but we can walk/drive it if I can find the map.
I'm also open to organizing a (de)tour/site-writing-workshop as well, in/around the bay (Skaggs Island, the Headlands Bunkers, Treasure Island, Albany Bulb landfill, etc.).
and great bookstores, including Bolerium (in SF) for an amazing archive of old & out of print radical, leftist, labor, queer, la raza, etc publications, plus a great pile of old soviet pamphlets and the like. Modern Times nearby, plus Moe's in Berkeley, Green Apple in SF, etc etc...
also: there are readings & talks the weekend before 95 begins for those coming early:
Rob Halpern & David Wolach in Brkly (house reading/party) on the 24th, plus Wolach's giving a talk on the afternoon of the 25th for/with the Nonsite Collective (http://www.nonsitecollective.org/node)
and there's a poetry reading in Oakland the night of the 25th (but I can't find details right now
there ya go --- see you soon ---
Monday, June 21, 2010
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
- Jason Read briefly mentions gender and the significance of domestic labour for arguments of use value, and some Marxist feminist writing on that topic from the 1970s
- Joel Kovel asserts that the hierarchisation of the sex/gender binary is the foundational moment for both human inequality, and exclusionary thinking that divides ecology into humans and the "environment," while dismissing eco-feminism as flawed by a) goddess-worship and b) in-fighting (hello, the 1970s called, and they want their stereotypes back)
- Paul Avrich, er, mentions Emma Goldman. And some female teachers, without ever exploring whether the anarchist school movement addressed the socialisation of gender in education (from the description of some of the womanising, supported-by-girlfriend teachers, not so much) -- despite the presence of Goldman and some connections to the group of leftist and feminist magazines and writer-activists charted by Nancy Berke in Women Poets on the Left.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Sunday, June 13, 2010
I'm not attending the 95 Cent Skool, an experimental writing seminar in Oakland in July, but I've been reading their book list anyway. One of the books is titled "The Enemy of Nature: The End of Capitalism or the End of the World?" by Joel Kovel, detailing the dangers of a capitalist mindset. He makes so many interesting definitions and connections that I can't help but provide a synopsis/review of the book and my thoughts.
Mainly, the thesis is that capitalism is inherently anti-ecological, mostly due to the nature of capital.
This requires answering a bunch of questions. Notably:
What is the nature of capital?
We relate to objects through our sense of value. Objects have three forms of value: intrinsic value, defined by our appreciation for and receptivity to the object by itself; use value, defined by what we use the object to do; and exchange value, defined by what we can get through an exchange of the object. While intrinsic and use values are qualitative, exchange value is always quantitative.
Capital is any object for which the exchange value is primary. For instance: money is the ultimate form of capital. It isn't particularly beautiful, we can't use the physical paper or bank balance for much, but it has a lot of exchange value in the sense that we can exchange it for everything else. Notably, capital only has value in the moment of exchange. Capital only has value when you give it away, and then you need more.
What is capitalism?
Capitalism is any system in which human labor is a form of capital. This occurs because the means for production (everything that makes labor possible) are all privately owned. Labor, by definition, is a) owned by each individual human being, and b) used to create value, whether in the form of laying bricks, writing a song, or teaching children. In a capitalist society, laborers give away their labor for a wage, because they own neither the means for creating value for themselves nor the full value that results from their labor. Their labor only nets them the paycheck that the private owners of the means for production choose to give.
To extrapolate, capitalism is any system in which capital organizes all elements of production, from labor to raw materials to all else. Exchange value (money) begins the production process and exchange value (profit) is the end goal.
What defines "ecological?"
Ecology, strictly defined, is a discipline devoted to the study of the relationships between members of a natural system, both living and non-living. As Kovel uses it, natural systems can be anything from a rain forest to a city block to a set of cubicles to the human mind. According to Kovel, ecology also the study of the overall health of a natural system, as a system is comprised of relationships. Ecological morality emphasizes the health of relationships as they pertain to the whole of the system. Healthy relationship, he states, "is any mutual signalling that preserves both connection and individuality."
Why is capitalism inherently anti-ecological?
Kovel asserts that whenever capital organizes production, two things happen. 1) Capital tends to degrade the conditions of its own production and 2) Capital must expand without end in order to exist. By definition, capital only exists at the moment of giving it away, hence it must be constantly renewed, constantly expanding into new markets.
Capitalism is inherently anti-ecological because when these two things happen, they tear apart relationships within ecologies, which operate under fundamentally different rules. 1) requires splitting the ecology into commodities in order to siphon the exchangeable parts from the non-exchangeable parts, while 2) creates so much waste and removes so much of an ecology that it can't restore itself. The whole is ruined by over-focus on certain parts. This can be applied to natural ecologies as well as social or internal human ecologies. Corporate burnout happens by your thirties.
This is a problem, because we can't escape from nature - we're a part of it, and if we don't learn how to treat our lives and our planet ecologically, we're going to sink along with it.
What is an ecological alternative to private ownership of means for and ends of production?
A word that I'm somewhat dubious about: "Usufruct." In a usufructary relationship, all means for production, including machines, living quarters, and the natural world, are for your use and fruitful enjoyment. It's not an "ownership" relationship, however, because ownership is predicated upon capital and exchange value, whereas as usufructs, the means for production are an intrinsic part of the community. They can't be uprooted or sold and so are treated with reverence in an ecosocialist society.
Ownership is predicated on the potential for liquidation and moving on, moving away. In a capitalist way of life, argues Kovel, "nothing is ever really owned, since everything can be exchanged, taken away, and abstracted. This stimulates the thirst for possessions that rages under capitalist rule...and [is] the subjective dynamic of the ecological crisis."
Why are we writers required to read this?
What does it mean to be a productive writer, and what does it mean to hold private ownership of our produced writing, versus taking a usufructary, ecosocialist relationship with it, potentially in the company of other writers, always in the context of shared social struggle? What does that writing look like?
I would argue that to write is to be inherently anti-capitalist, because you're not transforming your labor power into capital. There is no wage, no exchange value for the act of writing. So what does it say about the sort of world you want to occupy if you simply can't help but read; if you simply can't help but write? These are just my own initial thoughts...other readers have to have more!
Ultimately, this book is a blueprint for someone's ideal world. Joel Kovel isn't a writer, really, in the sense of fascination with language itself. Maybe he is, I don't know. But primarily through this book, he's a historian and he's a sociologist and he's a dreamer and he puts forth a beautiful image but there's a difference, because right here, right now, we're writers. Our job is to bring our hearts critically to bear on our language.
So if you read this and like me, you fall all over yourself with desire, the question becomes: what does the writing look like that arises and arrives from its dreaming? Where does it come from and where does it go? And further, once the verbal heart is sated: what forms, methods, and contents for writing does Kovel's blueprint point you toward in the aftermath?
These aren't just academic questions. If this is the 95 Cent Skool, and we are committed to the assumption that "the basis of poetry is not personal expression or the truth of any given individual, but shared social struggle," then how you relate to the social struggle between anti-ecological capitalism and ecosocialism described in this book is of crucial importance to your poetics. How does it enter into your poetic life, process or conclusion? Consider, and discuss.