The Storming of Capitol Hill: a lesson for us?

The Storming of Capitol: a lesson for the rest of us?

In the 2013 Hollywood movie White House Down, a group of disgruntled secret service agents orchestrates a siege of the White House. But the premise was so farfetched that most people just treated the movie as just another example of Hollywood’s overactive imagination. Naturally, the film became a hit at the box office. Well, something like that happened on Capitol Hill on January 6, 2021. With four dead and fifty-two people arrested, the date will surely go down as a day of infamy in America.

But while the film ended with a typical Hollywood ending, the storming of Capitol will not end like the film – with a hero saving the day. Indeed, there will be repercussions and consequences. But more importantly, it marks a point in modern history, or at least in 21st-century history, that Americans tried to enact – as US President Joe Biden termed it – “insurrection.” And that surely deserves a moment of reflection.

Essentially, the storming occurred because the protestors, as Trump supporters, were unhappy that their candidate had lost the 2020 US Presidential Elections. As a result, they sought to disrupt the certification of Electoral College votes during a joint session of Congress. But the event was not something that came from nowhere. It was the culmination of months of divisive rhetoric that was partly encouraged by Trump, who wanted supporters to help him to overturn the result.

But be that as it may, the storming of Capitol on January 6, 2021, was not an aberration or one-off event. Throughout these past few years, there have been signs that people are increasingly fed up and angry with how their leaders have been running the country. Indeed, the event was but another sign of a country at war with itself. So, make no mistakes about it; what happened was not the result of foreigners or outsiders invading Capitol Hill. Rather, they were the actions of Americans who were unhappy about the results of the 2020 Presidential elections as well as many other issues affecting them on a personal level, such as employment, health, culture, social and political insecurity, and disenfranchisement.

Indeed, it was really an event of Americans fighting against themselves. As an outsider looking in, it was not a pleasant or welcoming sight. Indeed, such acts are never pleasant at all. So, while some have expressed a certain sense of glee about the whole event, it would really be misguided for anyone to indulge in the sense of schadenfreude about the whole thing. That is because such an event can happen anywhere in the world – indeed, they have occurred elsewhere in other countries. So, for those who try to gloat, we need to be very careful at laughing at the misfortune of others – if not least, we neglect to learn from it.

What happened in America is important not because it happened in America. Rather, what happened is important because it shows that no one, nowhere, and no place is immune to civil unrest and demonstrations – not even the heart and center of Democracy. Indeed, the storming of Capitol is important because it is but just another example of how the cultivation of a socio-cultural landscape is important to the conduct and flow of civil society.

After all, what can be more symbolic of Democracy than the idea of free and informed people coming together to debate and participate on who to cast their votes for during elections, and when results are out, allow for a peaceful and stable transfer of power?  But in a social landscape where politics become like sports, where politicians are judged not so much on the rigor, coherency, and profits of their policies and plans but on how they can rouse emotions by demonizing the other, and where there is so much emphasis on “winners” and “losers,” such a landscape can only be a toxic and unhealthy way of conducting important affairs of the state.

But, as President Kennedy once suggested, a crisis is not necessary all doom and gloom. Indeed, it also presents an opportunity for constructive actions. So, while the event that took place on Capitol on January 6, 2021, may demoralize the spirit, we might do well to take counsel from another quote from President Kennedy’s as he advises us; “We must neither run with the crowd nor deride it – but seek sober counsel for it – and for ourselves.”

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The loudest voice does not mean it’s the only right voice

Maybe I am the only one here but the loudest voice does not mean that it’s the only right voice or the smartest voice. At the same time, the quietest voice does not mean that it’s the wrong voice or stupidest voice. One does not mean the other.

Additionally, when people say “I speak for a community?”, is it a self-elected or group elected voice? Maybe it’s just me but those who wish to “speak” for others should, in a democratic society, stand up for election. Otherwise, it’s just speaking for oneself.

By no means is it to say that speaking for others is wrong, but to claim and say that one speaks for a community or a group without really being elected is a statement that speaks more for the desire for public awareness than really wanting to be a true representative of said group.

But a curious thing is that when leaders are really elected, they say said leaders are not elected? But they did went through an election. So either one desires a society that values elections or one that does not value elections.

To that end, no one has a monopoly on empathy or sympathy or virtue. So just because you are the loudest, it does not mean that you must be necessarily right, virtuous, coherent or even consistent.

It just means you are the loudest.

The Awesomeness of Pierce Brosnan’s delivery of the iconic “Bond, James Bond”

If anything, with all things being equal, and if anyone with any sense can see, it is that Pierce Brosnan’s delivery of the iconic introduction of the titular character is definitely one of the most badass deliveries of the line in history. So, without spoiling it, let’s just luxuriate at his badass delivery.

 

De-westernizing the Anglo-Franco film auteur?_preliminary thoughts

*brief thoughts on a paper that i have been struggling to complete for the past year. I felt I had to put some of these ideas out so as to exorcise some mental-road blocks i have about this topic


Film auteurism is one of the most pernicious concepts in film culture (see Robert Stam 2000). That is because it is a hold-over of imperialism and colonialism. Corollary to that, film auteurism continues to uphold the centrality of a spokes-and-wheel film culture that starts from an Anglo-Franco center and outwards to the world. 

In such a system, the role of divinity plays a big role to create a sense of mysticism and aura about film and cinema. This then creates a cultural-industrial complex where Anglo-Franco ideas of art, culture, and cinema becomes the standard of what is cinema, art, and culture.

To dewesternise the idea of film auteurism from non-Europeans, and non-Western cultures, it is necessary to examine both the American and Franco ideas of a film auteur and the system that enables and advances them in order to develop a clearer sense of film authorship .

To be sure, there are many variants of a film auteur. But there are really only two kinds or rather two archetypes; there is the American-Hollywood type and European-French-centric type. Namely, the former is commonly considered to be of  industry and mass-production, and the latter is of artisanal and sophistication.

According to the American film critic, Andrew Sarris suggests that we can see the categorization of a film director as three concentric circles. Starting from the outer ring, one can see (a) the technician; then moving inwards towards (b) the stylist, and then (c) the auteur.

By auteur, Sarris suggests that such a film director is not only technically proficient and or even stylistically distinctive but he or she can show a kind of individuality or “élan of the soul” in their work. 

While many conflate commercial cinema with America and art cinema with Europe; it is only common sense to see that there is commercial cinema and art cinema in every country, region, and state around the world. So, from a marketing standpoint, if not least from a differentiation standpoint, it is about branding and positioning. 

While Alexandre Astruc  advocates the primacy of the camera-pen and Francois Truffaut calls for a non-conventional and more personality-based film in cinema as opposed to formula-driven Hollywood or commercial films , David Bordwell argues that we should see commercial cinema and art cinema as two different styles of filmmaking.

But this conflict between commerce and artisanal is a conflict to claim the moral and ethical high ground. Certainly, there are a lot of inflated essays written by this or that artist group regarding the superiority of this or that form and style over other kinds. 

But ultimately what it comes down to is to argue that their side of the argument is morally and ethically superior – and therefore more enlightened – than the other side. So, it doesn’t really matter which side you are on, what matters is that the home side is always superior than the away side.

By ratcheting up the conflict, the noise generated by the debate increases not only the rhetorical power of the press, media, critics, and scholars but it also shifts attention away from the center.

By the same token, if film auteurism means a kind of technique, style, personality, and soul, then it begs the question; what kind of technique and style makes one an auteur?

Importantly, what kind of personality and soul does not?

The auteur theory teaches people how to like and appreciate one kind of filmmaking which is “art” cinema and to devalue “commercial” cinema.

The socio-cultural features of film auteurism can be seen in how

(1) the system selects and decides who and what counts in cinema, and therefore

(2) it selects and decides who and what does not count in the cultural and social spheres.

(3) It creates different categories of filmmakers to place, rank, and assign their value and worth,

(4) and finally, film auteurism rewards and punishes filmmakers via the giving and withholding of prestige, accolades, and acclaims in the press, media, and in academia. 

To say that film auteurism is a caste system would be pushing it too far. But nevertheless one can certainly see that auteurs and metteur-en scenes are not only names but that they are social and cultural markers to segregate people into different castes.

To that end, the central tenets of a caste system or class system are antinomies of democracy, liberty, and individualism.

And if the latter are values and principles still to be preserved and advanced, then it is clear that we have to disrupt if not least to de-establish the neutral-ness or natural-ness of the film auteur. 

To de-westernise the idea, one must already see that the idea of a film auteur – either in the Hollywood-American kind or European-Franco kind; is already a kind of selection made by writers who are embedded in their respective societies.

For non-American or European readers and writers, we must therefore confront these assumptions, biases, and socio-cultural realities before we can even transform the idea of the auteur for our own milieu.

 

 

machine desires

The culture of productivity is the culture of dehumanisation

To be totally efficient and effective is to be perfect

But to be perfect is not only to deny our humanity but it is also to find fault with our being

This is especially because we are human beings and not mindless and soulless machines

To be productive is not so much to be automatic and mechanical

But it is to be a mindless being that produces not for ourselves but for others

To be productive is to be erase our personhood

Philosophy according to Bertrand Russell

The late English philosopher Bertrand Russell describes philosophy as such: –

“Mankind, ever since there have been civilized communities have been confronted with problems of two different kinds. On the one hand, there has been the problem of mastering natural forces, of acquiring the knowledge and the skill required to produce tools and weapons and to encourage Nature in the production of useful animals and plants. This problem, in the modern world, is dealt with by science and scientific technique, and experience has shown that in order to deal with it adequately it is necessary to train a large number of rather narrow specialists.

He continues: –

But there is a second problem, less precise, and by some mistakenly regarded as unimportant – I mean the problem of how best to utilize our command over the forces of nature. This includes such burning issues as democracy versus dictatorship, capitalism versus socialism, international government versus international anarchy, free speculation versus authoritarian dogma. On such issues the laboratory can give no decisive guidance.

The kind of knowledge that gives most help in solving such problems is a wide survey of human life, in the past as well as in the present, and an appreciation of the sources of misery or contentment as they appear in history. It will be found that increase of skill has not, of itself, insured any increase of human happiness or wellbeing.

Philosophy for Laymen  (1946)

http://www.philosophy-index.com/russell/problems-philosophy/15.php

Philosophical knowledge, if what has been said above is true, does not differ essentially from scientific knowledge; there is no special source of wisdom which is open to philosophy but not to science, and the results obtained by philosophy are not radically different from those obtained from science.

….The essential characteristic of philosophy, which makes it a study distinct from science, is criticism.”…

http://www.philosophy-index.com/russell/problems-philosophy/15.php

 (emphasis mine)

The above describes both the focus (the forces of nature) and method (criticism) that one should adopt in thinking and practicing philosophy. Indeed one should engage in  philosophical “uncertainty” – in the sense that this “uncertainty” is determined by a sense of childlike curiosity and a fundamental breaking apart of ideas, behaviors and assumptions of everyday life in Singapore.

Philosophy is to be studied, not for the sake of any definite answers to its questions, since no definite answers can, as a rule, be known to be true, but rather for the sake of the questions themselves; because these questions enlarge our conception of what is possible, enrich our intellectual imagination and diminish the dogmatic assurance which closes the mind against speculation; but above all because, through the greatness of the universe which philosophy contemplates, the mind also is rendered great, and becomes capable of that union with the universe which constitutes its highest good.

Philosophy according to Giles Deleuze

What can philosophy do?

Deleuze argued that philosophy (thinking, understanding, interpreting, and arguing) can open life up to diverse modes of thinking and not just leaning towards common sense tendencies and agreed ways of thinking (Colebrook, 2002, pg11).

We do philosophy then, not to conform or correct some dogma of common sense, we do it to expand thought to its infinite potential (ibid, pg15). There is a universal power of philosophy. It is not a power for generalization or looking at some common features that all beings share. But thinking universally to think about how any being might be possible (ibid). Thinking, in Philosophy, Art and Science, gives power to the thinker to maximise the power of human consciousness (ibid, pg 106).

  1. Philosophy is the universalising power to create concepts. to think about the immanence of becoming
  2. Art has the power to create concepts of percepts and affects
  3. Science takes the flow of life and fixes it into observable ‘state of affairs’ that can be ordered by functions
  4. Literature or literary text contains scientific powers of observations AND philsophical powers of conceptuality

Why is Philosophy, thinking or thought, important?
If we accept thought as homogeneous, we fall into unquestioning opinion, reducing all science or philosophy to fact-finding (representing what exist) *Instead of what it could be*THe transformative or disruptive potential of using thinking.* Art, like Philosophy and Science, has the power to transform life.

What is Art?
Art, like Literature, is the power about the imagination of a possible world. “Art is not representation, concepts or judgments; art is the power to think in terms that are not so much cognitive and intellectual as AFFECTIVE” (Colebrook, 2002, pg12).

How to read a work as Art or as Philosophy?
He suggested looking at a work at what it DO instead of what a work IS, and understanding its SPECIFIC FORCE, or its capacity for rupturing life.

The Awesomeness of The Untouchables (1987)

Now this is one awesome scene. Yes, I know that a lot of critics, fans, and scholars have mentioned that this scene is a homage to Sergei Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin.

Well, firstly by constantly linking back to B.P, it does a great disservice to that film. Secondly, it does a great disservice to this film.

Brian De Palma really showed his mastery of choreography, camera, editing, and cinematic suspense but most of all; his emphasis of foley sounds and music.

 

The Future of Jobs will only be menial work and high technological work

Interesting read.

The common factor behind these incidences is that over the past 40 years, the computer and internet economy that replaced mental labor by humans, particularly digital technology, multi-dimensional digital terminals and internet sharing technologies, have caused the US economy and, in fact, the economic structures of many countries in the world to transform.

from this article

Costs of Globalization and Trade

 

 

 

 

There is so much to fear and not to fear at the same time in the new digital age.

With so much talk regarding how the world is entering into the 4th Industrial Revolution, Disruptive Technologies, AI, Automation, and the Digital Economy; it got me thinking how I have benefited from these technologies but at the same time; how it will affect me in a negative way.

Granted, as someone who regularly shops and surfs for the latest things online; the new digital age has been amazing.  But while it has been fantastic for the consumer; I was thinking about how sucky it must be for the worker whose job was replaced by technology.

Let me give you an example:

I loved buying DVDs.  In fact, I used to go to DVD shops. But at the same time, I hate going to the DVD shop Why? That is because I hate having to communicate with the store owner or the sales rep.  I hate having to answer the question; “Can I help you to find what you are looking for?”

I love to browse and take my time browsing through the titles and looking at the DVD covers and reading the blurbs. I like the idea of just being lost in the moment of browsing.  But at the same time, I will get tired after a while.

I used to shop at this particular DVD shop where I found out that they usually stock old movies. It was one of my favorite places to go; but at the same time, it wasn’t. That is because while the owner had a lot of old movies, he would usually get grumpy or irritated if I took too long to browse through his goods.

But my life changed when I knew about Amazon – way back in 2000.  I made my first purchase; a DVD boxset of “The Godfather Trilogy”.  It was amazing.

It was amazing because all I needed was a credit card; one click; shipping address; and boom….it was delivered to my house.

So, like many others, I started to buy not only DVDs but books and other stuff online….well..mostly from Amazon.

Later, I found out that the shop had closed down.  To be honest, I did not really mourn for it. In fact, I just went on to shop online without a care in the world.

But over the years I realized that almost everyone began to ignore the typical brick and mortar shops and began shopping online. Now, I am no Luddite.  In fact, I am a child of the internet. Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram….etc etc

But recently, I began to notice more and more news about Digital Disruption, Disruptive Technologies., AI….. yada yada….

And then it occurred to me……

We are indeed living in an era where technological advances have really changed the way all of us communicate, share, receive, and shop.

But to the point; it also occurred to me that with these technologies; a lot of things are made easier and more convenient.  Yet, it also meant that a lot of jobs will either be high tech skills jobs or low menial work.

We hear stories of university or college students working in cafes, or older workers retrenched and are unable to get back into the workforce.

And not to mention; in a globalized world;  transnational corporations can choose where is the cheapest and cost-efficient countries to base their operations; which means that jobs go to workers who can afford lower wages and benefits.

Now, I am not going to play the blame game of “globalization is bad” or “corporations are evil”. Rather it is just simple logic. Any businessman wants to maximize their profits. And globalization has benefited a large segment of society regardless of nationalities and countries.

So what I am saying is that; we cannot change or undo technological inventions, we can’t say that we need to keep what are basically obsolete and unproductive jobs in the face of newer technologies (like the DVD shop); or that we must undo globalization; or even fear the onset of technological advances.

Because it is precisely of the Internet that we can get online shopping; or for that matter that someone invented digital photography that we can take crappy photos on our phone (which incidentally killed Kodak).

I guess what I am really trying to say is that there is fear; fear of change; fear of having to upgrade my skills; fear of someone from another country taking my job; fear in general.

But at the same time,  I fear not having the Internet, not being able to Travel; or able to see what new inventions can better my life; or not.

I fear to live in a world that goes back to the dark ages of no wireless connections and digital photographs.  But most of all, I fear not being able to buy movies with one click at Amazon.

 

Costs of Globalization and Trade

Economists on the Run

As Stiglitz put it to Foreign Policy: “Obviously, the costs [of globalization] would be borne by particular communities, particular places—and manufacturing had located [to] places where wages were low, suggesting that these were places where adjustment costs were likely large.” And it’s increasingly clear the detrimental effects may not be merely short-term trends. The swift opening up of trade with developing countries, combined with investment agreements, has “dramatically changed workers’ bargaining power (an effect reinforced by weakening unions and other changes in labor legislation and regulation).”