Sunday, 19 November 2017

National Crowd Symbols, by Elias Canetti (1960)

The following excerpts are taken from Elias Canetti's "Crowds and Power". "Crowds and Power" is considered to be his major work and an outgrowth of his interest in mass psychology, the emotions of crowds, the psychopathology of power, and the allure of fascism. Canetti (1905-1994) was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1981 (via).



"Most attempts to find out what nations really are have suffered from an intrinsic defect: they have been attempts to define the general concept of nationality. People have said that a nation is this or that, apparently believing that all that mattered was to find the right defmition; once found, this would be applicable to all nations equally. They have adduced language or territory, written literature, history, form of government or so-called national feeling; and in every case the exceptions have proved more important than the rule. It has been like clutching at some adventitious garment, in the belief that the living creature within could be thus grasped.



Apart from this seemingly objective approach, there is another, more naïve one, which consists in being interested in one nation only one's own-and indifferent to all the rest. Its components are an unshakeable belief in the superiority of this one nation; prophetic visions of unique greatness, and a peculiar mixture of moral and feral pretensions. But it must not be assumed that all these national ideologies have the same content. It is only in their importunate appetite and the claims they make that they are alike. They want the same thing. but in themselves they are different. They want aggrandisement, and substantiate their claim with the fact of their increase. There is no nation, it seems, which has not been promised the whole earth, and none which is not bound to inherit it in the course of nature. All the other nations who hear of this feel threatened, and their fear blinds them to everything except the threat. Thus people overlook the fact that the concrete contents of these national claims. the real ideologies behind them, are very different from one another. One must take the trouble to fmd out what is peculiar in each nation; and do it without being infected by its greed. One must stand apart, a devotee of none, but profoundly and honestly interested in all of them. One should allow each to unfold in one's mind as though one were condemned actually to belong to it for a good part of a lifetime. But one must never surrender entirely to one at the cost of all the others.

For it is idle to speak of nations as though there were not real differences between them. They wage long wars against one another and a considerable proportion of each nation takes an active part in these wars. "What they are fighting for is proclaimed often enough, but what they fight as is unknown. It is true they have a name for it; they say they fight as Frenchmen or as Germans, English or Japanese. But what meaning is attached to any of these words by the person using it of himself? In what does he believe himself to be different when, as a Frenchman or a German, a Japanese or an Englishman, he goes to war? The factual differences do not matter so much. An investigation of customs, traditions, politics and literature, could be thorough and still not touch the distinctive character of a nation, that which, when it goes to war, becomes its faith.

Thus nations are regarded here as though they were religions; and they do in fact tend to tum into something resembling religions from time to time. The germ is always latent in them, becoming active in times of war.

We can take it for granted that no member of a nation ever sees himself as alone. As soon as he is named, or names himself, something more comprehensive moves into his consciousness, a larger unit to which he feels himself to be related. The nature of this unit is no more a matter of indifference than his relationship to it. It is not simply the geographical unit of his country, as it is found on a map; the average man is indifferent to this. Frontiers may have their tension for him, but not the whole area of a country. Nor does he think of his language, distinctly and recognisably though this may differ from that of others. Words which are familiar to him certainly affect him deeply, and especially in times of excitement. But it is not a vocabulary which stands behind him, and which he is ready to fight for. And the history of his nation means even less to the man in the street. He does not know its true course, nor the fullness of its continuity. He does not know how his nation used to live, and only a few of the names of those who lived before him. The figures and moments of which he is aware are remote from anything the proper historian understands as history.

The larger unit to which he feels himself related is always a crowd or a crowd symbol. It always has some of the characteristics of crowds or their symbols: density, growth and infinite openness; surprising, or very striking, cohesion; a common rhythm or a sudden discharge. Many of these symbols have already been treated at length, for example, sea, forest and com. It is unnecessary to recapitulate here the qualities and functions which have made them crowd symbols. They will recur in the discussion of the conceptions and feelings nations have about themselves. But it must be stressed that these crowd symbols are never seen as naked or isolated. Every member of a nation always sees himself, or his picture of himself, in a fixed relationship to the particular symbol which has become the most important for his nation. In its periodic reappearance when the moment demands it lies the continuity of national feeling. A nation's consciousness of itself changes when, and only when, its symbol changes. It is less immutable than one supposes, a fact which offers some hope for the continued existence of mankind."

(via)

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photographs via and via

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Ethnocentrism and the Tragedy World Map

"Cultural proximity, or how relatable an event is due to audience’s identifying with the protagonists, has been noted in influencing viewer preferences (Straubhaar, 1991) and has been shown to be an important variable in how the media select and frame stories (Galtung & Ruge, 1965; Moeller, 2006; Cottle, 2013). Summed rather crudely by a Sky US correspondent, cultural proximity means that, in terms of media value, “one British person equals however many Bangladeshi etcetera” (in Cottle, 2013: 235). The 2004 East Asia tsunami provides the exemplary instance of this in action, with the CARMA report finding 40 percent of all the media’s coverage focused on westerners affected by the disaster, who made up less than one percent of the victims (Franks, 2006)."
Callum Martin, 2015



"The international news calculus is always the same. First, is there a local person in the disaster or on board a plane that has crashed? If so, the local victims get intense focus that simplifies [the] international crisis or conflict for readers. … Overall, there is this concept of ‘worthy’ and ‘unworthy’ victims in the media."
Jack Lule, Lehigh University



- Flooding in 2017, some headlines and excerpts:

"As Storm Harvey threatens Louisiana and leaves heavy floods across parts of Texas, thousands of people affected by disasters in Asia and Africa have also been tweeting and sharing pictures of their experiences.
But news outlets have focussed headlines and bulletins largely on the disaster in the US, prompting accusations from social media users of giving disproportionate attention to stories about wealthier countries."
BBC, August 2017

"Harvey has gathered headlines as the most powerful storm to hit Texas in half a century, but floods have killed many more people in Africa and Asia this year amid extreme weather worldwide."
VOA News, August 2017

"More than 1,200 people have died across India, Bangladesh and Nepal as a result of flooding, with 40 million affected by the devastation."
The Guardian, August 2017

"Houston animals are lost, cold and suffering too"
Newsweek, August 2017

"27 cats, 8 dogs rescued from Houston flooding arrive at MaxFund Denver"
The Denver Post, September 2017



- Ebola

"How the world ignored Africa’s Ebola tragedy
Had the deadly virus started in the West, the response would have been vastly different"
The Daily Telegraph, October 2014

"(...) despite taking thousands of lives in Africa, Ebola did not capture the global spotlight until the first Americans became infected and arrived back in the United States for treatment."
Forbes, February 2016

- Some more examples

"When Nepal was struck with an earthquake, nearly a quarter of all global coverage in the first 24 hours was about the foreign tourists trapped on Mouth Everest."
Forbes, February 2016

"(...) the November 2015 Paris attacks garnered more than nine times the global media attention as the April 2015 Kenyan attack, despite the Garissa attack involving the targeted killing of children at school."
Forbes, February 2016

"In the case of Zika, Google Trends shows that interest in the virus did not really begin until this past December and accelerated in January as the first American infection was confirmed and concerns rose over the potential of the Summer Olympics to create a global epidemic."
Forbes, February 2016

"Guatemala experienced one of the worst earthquakes in this century in the Western hemisphere,” with the official death toll later put at 4,000. “Yet, proportionate to the number of victims, it received one-third of the coverage given the Italian earthquake” that killed nearly 1,000 people that year."
William C. Adams, George Washington University

"As media coverage focused on the Paris terror attacks last week [leaving 17 dead], more than 2000 Nigerians were reported to have been killed by Islamist militants. What makes one massacre more newsworthy than another?"
The Guardian, January 2015

- Finally:

"The majority of what we know about the latest on the Syrian civil war, or reconstruction in Haiti or the spread of the Zika virus is determined by editorial decisions of what is “important” or “relevant” for us to know. As computer algorithms begin to play an ever-growing role in making these decisions for us, we are fast reaching a world where “likes” will become the new arbitrator of what is important in the world and where, in spite of more and more information, we will know less and less."
Forbes, February 2016

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images via and via and via

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

The Cyrus Cylinder: The First Charter of Human Rights

The rugby ball-sized clay cylinder was made on the order of the Persian King Cyrus about 2.600 years ago, at a time, the empire stretched from the Balkans to Central Asia. Cyrus had the reputation of being a "liberal and enlightened monarch", his empire was "the first model based on diversity and tolerance of different cultures and religions", a model that later inspired Jefferson, Truman, and King George V. Some scientists call it the "first bill on human rights" (via and via). A replica of the world's first charter of human rights is kept at the United Nations Headquarters (via).



An excerpt from the cylinder:
“I ordered that all shall be free to worship their gods without harm … I ordered closed places of worship … to be reopened. … I brought their people together and rebuilt their homes.”
"Cyrus’ words heralded an exemplary policy of religious tolerance, producing stability across his vast multicultural domain — and suggesting that more freedom, rather than less, can be a recipe for a safer and more secure world."
Katrina Lantos Swett & Daniel I. Mark

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photograph via

Monday, 6 November 2017

Narrative images: The Last Day Women Walked the Streets of Tehran with Their Heads Uncovered

"This turned out to be the last day women walked the streets of Tehran uncovered. It was our first disappointment with the new post-revolution rulers of Iran."
Hengameh Golestan



On 8 March 1979, Iranian women protested against the new "Hijab Law" that had been introduced the day before. Women, from that day on, have been forced to wear scarves when leaving the house.



"Many people in Tehran went on strike and took to the streets. It was a huge demonstration with women – and men – from all professions there, students, doctors, lawyers. We were fighting for freedom: political and religious, but also individual."
Hengameh Golestan



photographs taken by Hengameh Golestan via and via and via

Saturday, 4 November 2017

I, Too

Langston Hughes's poem "I, Too" was first published in 1926. Today, the quote "I, too, am America" is written in large letters on the wall of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture that opened in Washington, DC in 2016.



I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

Tomorrow,
I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”
Then.

Besides,
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—

I, too, am America.

by Langston Hughes (1902-1967)

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In 18 lines, Hughes expresses the relationship of black US-Americans to the majority society, its complexity, its pain.
"There is a multi-dimensional pun in the title, “I, too” in the lines that open and close the poem. If you hear the word as the number two, it suddenly shifts the terrain to someone who is secondary, subordinate, even, inferior.Hughes powerfully speaks for the second-class, those excluded. The full-throated drama of the poem portrays African-Americans moving from out of sight, eating in the kitchen, and taking their place at the dining room table co-equal with the “company” that is dining. Intriguingly, Langston doesn’t amplify on who owns the kitchen. The house, of course, is the United States and the owners of the house and the kitchen are never specified or seen because they cannot be embodied. Hughes’ sly wink is to the African-Americans who worked in the plantation houses as slaves and servants. He honors those who lived below stairs or in the cabins. Even excluded, the presence of African-Americans was made palpable by the smooth running of the house, the appearance of meals on the table, and the continuity of material life. Enduring the unendurable, their spirit lives now in these galleries and among the scores of relic artifacts in the museum’s underground history galleries and in the soaring arts and culture galleries at the top of the bronze corona-shaped building." David C. Ward
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Photograph of Langston Hughes taken by the great Gordon Parks in Illinois, 1941 via

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Born this day ... Hannah Höch

Hannah Höch (1889-1978), née Anna Therese Johanne Höch, was a German artist, a "rare female practicing prominently in the arts in the early part of the twentieth century - near unique as a female active in the Dada movement" (via) since Dada was a "men's club" (Hemus, 2008). In her artwork, she addressed women's status in modern society, a status she kept challenging (via). Today, a Google Doodle is dedicated to the woman art history forgot (via).



"Looking back on that great early 20th century upsurge which turned art upside down, it’s all men, men, men. Cubism, Futurism, Dadaism and all the other great world-changing isms were about testosterone-fuelled mega-egos buffeting each other in the creation of mind-bending imagery and belligerent manifestos. There were, of course, plenty of women around in Paris, Berlin and the other great centres, but they tend — even if they were artists themselves — to be seen as appendages to better-known men; as muses, models and tea-makers rather than as contributors to the greatest artistic revolution the world has even seen."
Mark Hudson



A famous work of hers is "Cut with the Kitchen Knife" using "kitchen knife" to "symbolise her cutting through male-dominated society" (via).
"Höch was one of several women associated with Dada, besides artist Sophie Täuber and performer/poet Emmy Hennings, but she was not given a nickname or included in all of the Berlin group’s activities. The significance of her position in Dada, and in Germany, is highlighted: having worked in the industry, Höch often used images from fashion magazines, pasting male heads on to female bodies or vice versa. Her critique of traditional gender roles and how they upheld a conservative society is often subtle, especially when compared to post-war feminist art, but is most effective when making explicit the role of violence in maintaining them: The Father (1920) is particularly jarring, placing a composite of male authority heads onto a woman’s body in a white dress, her feet in stilettos, with a boxer punching the baby in her arms." 
The mid-1920s idea of  the "New Woman" - a product of women getting the vote - was one Höch very much engaged in. This idea was based on gender equality, nevertheless, many of the modern working women with bobbed hair remained in low-status work with unequal pay. Once married, women were not allowed to jobs able-bodied veterans could take.
"Within her circles, Höch was the New Woman, sharing both her style and her frustrations, and her background made her acutely aware of how this figure was a media creation and an advertising target. Portrait of Hannah Höch (1926) and another from 1929 show her looking like the New Woman, with her short hair and androgynous dress, but far from satisfied, let alone liberated." (via)


In the 1930s, Höch was labelled a "cultural Bolshevist" by the Nazis (via), her art branded as "degenerate" (via).
"Höch died in 1978, her place in 20th‑century art history almost, but not quite assured. Postwar histories of dadaism tended to patronise at best; she does not appear at all in Robert Motherwell's 1951 Dada Painters and Poets, and Hans Richter, in 1965, called her "a good girl" with a "slightly nun-like grace". But gradually she snuck into the canon – she was part of the major Dada, Surrealism and their Heritage exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in 1968 – and scholars and curators have since belatedly recognised that she was both a key dadaist and considerably more: a true pioneer of photomontage and a complex, funny critic of mainstream and art-world misogyny alike."
Brian Dillon


- Hemus, R. (2008). Why Have There Been No Great Women Dadaists? In Kokoli, A. M. (ed.) Feminism Reframed. Reflections on Art and Difference, Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 41-60
- photographs via and via (1975, by Stefan Moses) and via (1974, by Dietmar Bührer) and via

Monday, 30 October 2017

Asian-Americans: Facing Less Prejudice When Overweight

"We found that there was a paradoxical social benefit for Asian-Americans, where extra weight allows them to be seen as more American and less likely to face prejudice directed at those assumed to be foreign."
Sapna Cheryan



According to a study carried out by Handron et al., heavier Asian-Americans are seen as more US-American than those of normal weight and less likely to be viewed as being in the country illegally.

Interestingly, only Asian-Americans are considered to be more US-American when they were overweight:
"Asian-Americans but not white, black, or Latino Americans are associated with foreign countries that are not seen as stereotypically overweight, which enables greater weight to signal an American identity." (via)
"Can being overweight, a factor that commonly leads to stigmatization, ironically buffer some people from race-based assumptions about who is American? In 10 studies, participants were shown portraits that were edited to make the photographed person appear either overweight (body mass index, or BMI > 25) or normal weight (BMI < 25). A meta-analysis of these studies revealed that overweight Asian individuals were perceived as significantly more American than normal-weight versions of the same people, whereas this was not true for White, Black, or Latino individuals. A second meta-analysis showed that overweight Asian men were perceived as less likely to be in the United States without documentation than their normal-weight counterparts. A final study demonstrated that weight stereotypes about presumed countries of origin shape who is considered American. Taken together, these studies demonstrate that perceptions of nationality are malleable and that perceived race and body shape interact to inform these judgments."
Handron et al., 2017

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- Handron, C., Kirby, T. A., Wang, J., Matskewich, H. E. & Cheryan, S. (2017). Unexpected Gains. Being Overweight Buffers Asian Americans From Prejudice Against Foreigners. Psychological Science, 28(9), 1214-1227.
- photograph by Dorothea Lange (1942) via, title: "Oakland, Calif., Mar. 1942. A large sign reading "I am an American" placed in the window of a store, at [401 - 403 Eighth] and Franklin streets, on December 8, the day after Pearl Harbor. The store was closed following orders to persons of Japanese descent to evacuate from certain West Coast areas. The owner, a University of California graduate, will be housed with hundreds of evacuees in War Relocation Authority centers for the duration of the war" (literally via)

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Quoting Charlotte Brontë

"Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilized by education; they grow firm there, firm as weeds among stones."
Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855)



photograph (Paris, 1951) via

Friday, 27 October 2017

"... we felt you might enjoy a different body styling for a change."

Anglia's lines are so well-known to rally-followers (and rally-driving Anglia-followers) we felt you might enjoy a different body styling for a change.



To go on, however, Anglia's rugged dependability and performance are equally recognized by rally fans.
It's highly economical, handles like a charm and looks every inch the talented, gutsy little bundle of going concern it is.
Actually, you'd be quite safe and happy if you bought it on its reputation alone.
But it's more fun to try it out, so see your Anglia dealer.
He has all the details.

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image (1963/64) via

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Excitement for Him, Peace of Mind for the Little Lady

FOR HIM, performance-driving the automatic. No more over-riding gears. No more danger of reverse instead of low, or searching for second and drive detents as with the usual automatic selector. Now select the proper gear at the proper time with safety and confidence. Start in low (no possibility of reverse this time) and push forward and to the right on the "stick" for second. No chance, no feeling for the detent with "safety latch", a positive stop - a positive second. Ready for high, again to the right and forward as hard as you please and "bang", high - not neutral. Every selection quick and safe no matter the degree of excitement.

HIS ONLY
This key on his personal key ring prevents use of the competition gate by the curious parking lot attendant, or the automatic minded little lady. No chance of them over-revving the engine waiting for the automatic shift.



FOR HER, the usual peace of mind of the automatic transmission plus an extra bit of admiration for "her man" who really wanted a 4-speed standard stick but thought this extra just for her. The Dual Gate was designed for those who desire both the ease and convenience of an automatic plus the performance of a manually shifted transmission. It will add individualism and pride of ownership to that personal car which the family can borrow. A simple flip of the latch to the normal position, without the need of the key, and the manual shifting (His) gate is closed to all but the key holder. Also, we have put a little fun into driving the automatic.

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image via