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Cultural criticism and commentary from a Canadian perspective
Their comments are quite astute: Lim points out that talking about the "European arrival in the Americas “Discovery,” rather than Colonisation or Genocide," both effaces a lot of colonial history, and effectively dehumanizes the indigenous peoples who were in Canada at the time of European arrival. She also points out that the discussion of "the land – or indigenous people, or their culture – as so mysterious and spooky" is at once way of dehumanizing and romanticizing indigenous peoples. (SocImages mostly restates Lim's analysis.)(Text reads: Discovery is a fearless pursuit. Certainly, this was the case when the Vikings, the first Europeans to reach the new world, landed at L’Anse aux Meadows. While it may only be a three-hour flight for you, it was a considerably longer journey a thousand years ago. But it’s a place where mystery still mingles with the light and washes over the strange, captivating landscape. A place where all sorts of discoveries still happen every day. Some, as small as North America. Others, as big as a piece of yourself.)
Do you have any impression of the landscape in Canada right now?Thanks, Camille! Way to make me sorry that I assigned Break, Blow, Burn to my first-year writing students last year.
I'm not that familiar with Canada. But when I was at York University a few years ago, I thought, “Oh my god, they are so shallow. Such a backwater.”
“Critical thinking” sounds great. But it’s a Marxist approach to culture. It's just slapping a liberal leftist ideology on everything you do. You just find all the ways that power has defrauded or defamed or destroyed. It's a pat formula that's very thin.The question I pose back to her is this: what's the ideology involved in lamenting the lost prestige of the humanities, and in declaring that teachers need to teach "awe and respect"? That's a line of thinking that reifies cultural hierarchies, and that leaves us unable to consider the ways in which these hierarchies reinforce particular forms of power.
My experience of being a fat black woman has not been a fat-acceptance wonderland. I don't feel like I have been shamed for my body, but I have felt pressure to have a more socially acceptable body size.... Because of the history and attitudes in my community, I feel a responsibility to act in a manner that adheres to a strict code of conduct. Part of the code is hiding its existence from mainstream white culture. I struggle with those pressures when I don't feel like pulling myself together, when I want to toss a scarf over my messy hair and go grab some milk at the store, when I want to snarl at someone rather than do racism 101 for the umpteenth time. Being told by white women that I have it easy when it comes to my body image dismisses all of the complexities and difficulties of my identity and reduces them to "Cosmo says you're fat. Well, I ain't down with that!".Of course it's possible to read Quinn's comment as one about Mercedes's self-confidence in general. But -- if it's not that, or not just that, it's also a comment about longing to cross to the other side, to the "fat-acceptance utopia" of African-American culture. As Starkey makes clear, that's a longing that depends on false assumptions about other peoples' lives. When you combine these false assumptions with the power dynamic implicit in the interaction between Quinn and Mercedes, you've got a major problem on your hands.
Making assumptions about someone's identity and culture based on fragments of pop culture is dehumanizing....Sometimes what you think is fact is based on false premises. Black women do not live in a fat-acceptance utopia, and you're making racist assumptions if you think they do. (Emphasis mine.)
So -- what is this all about? If Julia were to pick up, say, a ukelele or a zither after years of playing the guitar, no doubt I'd think that was fine. If she had pictures taken of herself and a hammered dulcimer I'd probably say, "that's weird", but would have no such intense "JULIA STOP DOING THAT" reaction. And all of this, I have to admit, is because the cello is to me a "serious" instrument, one that should not be played by those who don't have proper conservatory discipline and technique. There's room for extended techniques, or pop cello, or jazz cello in this formulation -- as long as you've got the conservatory training first, and are choosing to set it aside. To be a guitarist who plays the cello "like a guitar or percussively", well, that can't be a musical activity of real value. It's an affront to an instrument with a long and storied past, and an affront to all of those conservatory cellists who spend five hours a day thickening the coffee-bean shaped callouses on their thumbs.Julia: I actually will be playing cello on the album, and strangely I have been getting lots of cred on my cello lately. Did you know since being the only cellist at the ECMAs I have played on 4 studio albums with cello? (though, to be fair, one was [ex-boyfriend's] band)me: wha?That's... weird to me!Julia: Its weird to me too. (cello) I am mediocre, and not classical at all but... people love it! And fretless playing by ear? Is EASY and amazing on an instrument tuned in fifths.me: See, I've just never thought of you as a serious cellistand some snooty part of me is like, "JULIA, STOP DOING THAT".If that makes sense :PWhich... I am going to admit it doesn'tme: Apparently I am invested in high art valuesand think that people shouldn't be non-serious players of string instruments.hahaJulia: ME TOO! I am happy to hear you say that. People get angry at me for being shy/tentative or angry at being called a cellist... but I always say "HAVE YOU HEARD CELLISTS?" I do not have their discipline or technique.me: hahaOH THANK GODI am so relieved to hear YOU say THATAnd... must point out that we have internalized the same values :pJulia: But I think.. in some ways for other people it is really refreshing and sounds... inventive and weird that I play cello like a guitar or percussively? But I often when coerced to play shall say I am an abomination to the art in some ways..