Cultural Kaleidoscope: January 25, 2013
In honor of Virginia Woolf’s (would-be) birthday today, check out this interesting old blog post on Woolf and her contemporary, painter Vanessa Bell that highlights paintings and quotes from each and let it inspire you:
While I am troubled by some of Virginia Woolf’s philosophies, I admire both her independent and artistic spirits. Her feminist and self-supportive ideas about an artist being enabled by having a room of one’s own, a place to create, a shelter, with the necessary financial and social support to do so – is worth consideration. And to her credit, her famous title of “A Room of One’s Own” is gender neutral – expressing the importance of a peaceful and supportive place to create, important for all artists, male or female.
A more sad literary anniversary is around the corner–it has been almost 50 years since poet Sylvia Plath committed suicide and this Guardian article raises interesting questions related to the publication of biographies about artists (one that also brings to mind the more recent writer David Foster Wallace):
A commendable aim, undoubtedly, but in doing so, Wilson returns to the old bitter arguments about how Hughes edited Plath’s work after her death, asking, with heavy nudge-nudging: “At what point did editorialising mutate into the sinister act of censorship?” Wilson points out that old bugbear about Hughes not publishing all of Plath’s early poems and can’t seem to believe that perhaps Hughes was genuinely looking out for Plath as best he could posthumously. Few writers would want all of their work published. Hughes’s censoring of her journals is given the usual short shrift; perhaps because Hughes is still, outrageously, blamed by some for Plath’s suicide, he is not deemed entitled to privacy. (Vera Nabokov burned her husband’s letters about their marriage, and fair enough.)
All of this comes back to a bigger argument: who a writer’s work belongs to, their family or the public.
Author and sociologist Michael Kimmel has a new post up on the Ms. blog about the recent gang rapes of girls in Ohio and India that questions our culture’s impulse to protect the boys of these crimes:
As I found in my interviews with more than 400 young men for my book Guyland, in the aftermath of these sorts of events –when high-status high school athletes commit felonies, especially gang rape– they are surrounded and protected by their fathers, their school administrations and their communities. These out-of-control, rapacious thugs are our school’s heroes — “our guys,” as the gang rapists at Glen Ridge High School in New Jersey were called nearly two decades ago. The players themselves hold to a code of silence, the omerta of sexual assault: No one ever rats out a fellow bro. The parents, the school and the community circle wagons in a culture of protection around the boys.
Why aren’t Nonprofits, especially small ones, effective at fundraising:
The authors go so far as to conclude that “Many nonprofits do not have an organizational culture that supports fundraising success,” and although they then offer some calls to action, the whole thing is inevitably depressing. (I do wonder, though, if those who work at nonprofits are surprised by any of this.) We can petition the government all we want for a new WPA: even if it somehow worked, it wouldn’t be enough, and we’d still need our nonprofits. And yeah, Kickstarter’s awesome, but it doesn’t work for everything. Clearly something has to change. But is the nonprofit system really fixable, or is it just a broken model? Is there an alternative?
There’s a lot around the internet about Girls and Lena Denham but this comparison with a less talked about show, Shameless, is something that isn’t discussed enough–the difference between being broke and being poor:
Still, none of this means we’re in a classless melting pot; each group’s expectations belie their upbringings. Hannah and her friends, all college grads, are indignant about their dwindling job prospects, while Fiona isn’t surprised that her dreams are deferred. Despite her smarts and work ethic, she’s been shoveling shit to put food on the table for years now, sometimes quite literally. In this Sunday’s season premiere, we find out Fiona has scored a job cleaning up sewage for $18 an hour, the holy grail in her working class neighborhood—but she gets laid off by the end of the episode. And unlike Hannah, Fiona is staring down a monster property tax bill and an endless grocery list. It’s still as hard as ever for the working class. While the “privileged poor” are getting a rude awakening, at least they have a buffer.
For the most part, both shows are stuck in the old model of strict class segregation. In Shameless’s universe, you’re either rich and smug or poor and righteous. Hannah mostly interacts with her own kind, and when her free-spirited friend Jessa suggests to her fellow nannies that they all join a union, it’s played for laughs rather than inspiration. But in the real world, the labor movement may indeed benefit from the class mixing that’s already going on.
In lighter news, new SLR cameras allow you to edit photos right on them.
As of late, emerging artists from throughout the world have been busy tearing painting down, and building it back up again; questioning exactly what a painting is; and coming up with ever more inventive and unique processes for making paintings. Many artists have taken a “provisional” stance, while others are producing highly finished work that so blurs the line between two and three-dimensional practice that categories of media such as painting and sculpture become all but useless.
I hope this exhibition travels around the globe so we can all get lost in light.
How to tell if you’re an artist (or maybe a creative, entrepenuer of any kind).
Enjoy the weekend!