One of the problems with telling other people’s stories is that you bear the responsibility for the telling. Technology invites each of us to tell our story in many mediums. When is it stealing? When is it exploitation? When is it empathy? When is it giving the gift of meaning–the only gift writers have to give? Language, that puckish knave, can sometimes express meaning well outside of the writer’s good intentions. That is why to write is both brave and foolish. For me, the act of empathizing with another human, of becoming them in my imagination, of wresting meaning from brash reality, that is the payoff.
Still, times change. We must listen to others and take heed. Here: http://nyti.ms/1XRvsz8
As many are fond of pointing out, The Fool in Shakespeare’s plays is the one figure that may speak freely against authority. While the rest of a king’s court is sycophantic, the fool’s role in court is privileged because he is honest. We are meant to be in awe of this fact. After all, free speech is democracy’s most favored virtue and to see it exercised by one with so little social power pleases a modern audience. But really, this Fool is a dramatic innovation, not a political one.
As a child, I rarely saw a prison except on television. Now, I see them more often and in the most populous of areas—beside a strip mall or industrial park or along the highway. The modern prison is not the gothic stone façade projecting doom and despair. Now they are bland, dull buildings with a modicum of razor wire and very thin, unbreakable windows. They blend into the background of the surrounding communities like schools and the DMV. Still, I shudder at the sight of them, not so much because I fear escapees, but rather because I fear the bureaucracy of the prison system itself.
Men’s fashion presents an exciting mixture of both the political and the aesthetic; aesthetic because the way all fashion excites the senses; political in the sense that Mary Louise Pratt means it: the body is a contact zone, a social space in which culture meets and grapples with itself.
Looking at sites like MaleFashionAdvice or shows like Queer Eye makes me think that now more than ever men are liberated to openly embrace fashion—or more precisely—liberated to now speak of the conscientious fashioning of their appearance. It wasn’t so long ago that GQ was an industry magazine meant for the wholesaler and haute couture was the language of the privileged class. In some ways we have see the democratization of exclusiveness, if for no other reason than it is better for the bottom line.
There was talk during the Bush administration of examining library records. Librarians were right to resist such inquiries on the grounds that such a intrusion in the civil liberties of readers would endanger the ability for free discussion of ideas. However, some part of me wished to see the results of an exhaustive survey of what people were reading from libraries. Which books were reserved, by whom, and how often. This is the kind of data that would speak volumes about our culture. Only recently has such information even been theoretically available. And yet, of course we should not look at such data. Though I like to sometimes imagine that the Librarians of the world know exactly what we are reading and thus know who we are, or worse, who we would like to be.
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