Thursday, 18 January 2018

The King. The Cool. Peter Wyngarde.

Peter Wyngarde (1927 - 2018) was "Jason King" but also Jan Wicziewsky, a gay Polish army lieutenant in one of the first ever gay television dramas ("South"). The milestone in gay cultural history screened in 1959, at a time homosexuality was illegal in the UK. In the acting world it was well-known that Wyngarde was gay, to the general public it was a "closely guarded secret" (via).

"I think you have to give Wyngarde a massive pat on the back in terms of the bravery in taking this role. There were quite bad reactions from some of the press."
Simon McCallum

"I do NOT see anything attractive in the agonies and ecstasies of a pervert, especially in close-up in my living room. This is not prudishness. There are some indecencies in life that are best left covered up."
review from the Daily Sketch's critic

"Watching it does remind you how brave he was at the time to take this role and the way the subject is dealt with is incredibly brave."
Simon McCallum

images via and via

Monday, 15 January 2018

Quoting David Bowie (II)

"If you are pining for youth I think it produces a stereotypical old man because you only live in memory, you live in a place that doesn’t exist… I think ageing is an extraordinary process whereby you become the person you always should have been."
David Bowie

Related posting: Quoting David Bowie

photographs via and via

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Temptations of a Faustian President

“Every notable historical era will have its own Faust,” wrote Kierkegaard. Our challenge today is that, to some extent, we are all in a Faustian bind. We are plagued by politicians offering easy answers to complex problems – especially when those easy answers are empty promises. The legend warns us to be wary of the cult of the ego, the seductions of fame and the celebration of power. These are hollow triumphs, and short-lived; indeed, “what good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?” (literally via)

A knock? Come in! Again my quiet broken?

'Tis I!

Come in!

Thrice must the words be spoken.

Come in, then!

Thus thou pleasest me.
I hope we'll suit each other well;
For now, thy vapors to dispel,
I come, a squire of high degree,
In scarlet coat, with golden trimming,
A cloak in silken lustre swimming,
A tall cock's-feather in my hat,
A long, sharp sword for show or quarrel,—
And I advise thee, brief and flat,
To don the self-same gay apparel,
That, from this den released, and free,
Life be at last revealed to thee!

This life of earth, whatever my attire,
Would pain me in its wonted fashion.
Too old am I to play with passion;
Too young, to be without desire.
What from the world have I to gain?
Thou shalt abstain—renounce—refrain!
Such is the everlasting song
That in the ears of all men rings,—
That unrelieved, our whole life long,
Each hour, in passing, hoarsely sings.
In very terror I at morn awake,
Upon the verge of bitter weeping,
To see the day of disappointment break,
To no one hope of mine—not one—its promise keeping:—
That even each joy's presentiment
With wilful cavil would diminish,
With grinning masks of life prevent
My mind its fairest work to finish!
Then, too, when night descends, how anxiously
Upon my couch of sleep I lay me:
There, also, comes no rest to me,
But some wild dream is sent to fray me.
The God that in my breast is owned
Can deeply stir the inner sources;
The God, above my powers enthroned,
He cannot change external forces.
So, by the burden of my days oppressed,
Death is desired, and Life a thing unblest!

And yet is never Death a wholly welcome guest.


Woe! woe!
Thou hast it destroyed,
The beautiful world,
With powerful fist:
In ruin 'tis hurled,
By the blow of a demigod shattered!
The scattered
Fragments into the Void we carry,
The beauty perished beyond restoring.
For the children of men,
Build it again,
In thine own bosom build it anew!
Bid the new career
With clearer sense,
And the new songs of cheer
Be sung thereto!

These are the small dependants
Who give me attendance.
Hear them, to deeds and passion
Counsel in shrewd old-fashion!
Into the world of strife,
Out of this lonely life
That of senses and sap has betrayed thee,
They would persuade thee.
This nursing of the pain forego thee,
That, like a vulture, feeds upon thy breast!
The worst society thou find'st will show thee
Thou art a man among the rest.
But 'tis not meant to thrust
Thee into the mob thou hatest!
I am not one of the greatest,
Yet, wilt thou to me entrust
Thy steps through life, I'll guide thee,—
Will willingly walk beside thee,—
Will serve thee at once and forever
With best endeavor,
And, if thou art satisfied,
Will as servant, slave, with thee abide.

And what shall be my counter-service therefor?

The time is long: thou need'st not now insist.

No—no! The Devil is an egotist,
And is not apt, without a why or wherefore,
"For God's sake," others to assist.
Speak thy conditions plain and clear!
With such a servant danger comes, I fear.


Canst thou, poor Devil, give me whatsoever?
When was a human soul, in its supreme endeavor,
E'er understood by such as thou?
Yet, hast thou food which never satiates, now,—
The restless, ruddy gold hast thou,
That runs, quicksilver-like, one's fingers through,—
A game whose winnings no man ever knew,—
A maid that, even from my breast,
Beckons my neighbor with her wanton glances,
And Honor's godlike zest,
The meteor that a moment dances,—
Show me the fruits that, ere they're gathered, rot,
And trees that daily with new leafage clothe them!

Such a demand alarms me not:
Such treasures have I, and can show them.
But still the time may reach us, good my friend.
When peace we crave and more luxurious diet.


Fear not that I this pact shall seek to sever?
The promise that I make to thee
Is just the sum of my endeavor.
I have myself inflated all too high;
My proper place is thy estate:
The Mighty Spirit deigns me no reply,
And Nature shuts on me her gate.
The thread of Thought at last is broken,
And knowledge brings disgust unspoken.
Let us the sensual deeps explore,
To quench the fervors of glowing passion!
Let every marvel take form and fashion
Through the impervious veil it wore!
Plunge we in Time's tumultuous dance,
In the rush and roll of Circumstance!
Then may delight and distress,
And worry and success,
Alternately follow, as best they can:
Restless activity proves the man!

via Gutenberg

Oskar Werner reads Goethe's Faust (German with English translation):

photographs of Oskar Werner (1922-1984), one of the most impressive actors ever via and via

Friday, 12 January 2018

Narrative images: Food in Segregated South Africa

"This is a photograph of a butcher shop in Johannesburg, South Africa, taken in May, 1965. They advertise second grade meat, which is sold at a lesser price, bought mostly by the black Africans and servants. (AP Photo/Royle)." (via)

"“Servant’s rations”, the “servant’s blankets”, the “servant’s crockery” were synonymous with second hand or cheap products of low-grade quality. Typically, for food “she was given bread, tea, jam and mielie-meal and occasionally managed to steal a piece of meat out of the cooking pot when she was cooking stew” (Cock, 1984, p. 34). Alternatively “servants rations consisted of inferior food and often include stale, rotten or simply ‘left-over food’ which the employer considered unsuitable for her own family’s consumption” (p. 27)."

"Often the domestic worker received part of her payment in kind (accommodation, food, old clothes etc.).
Offering old clothes, old furniture and leftover food with no expectation of return “places the recipient in the position of a child or a beggar, being too poor, too young or too low in social status to be able to participate in the system of exchanges which mark the social boundaries of the donor’s group” (Whisson & Weil, 1971, p. 43). Quite simply employers bestowed a gift in order to assert their dominance and their possession of the servant."

"I do remember being embarrassed at the way my parents treated Beauty e.g. her living conditions and she didn’t eat off the same crockery and the general food that she was given, the kind of tinned pilchards and tomato sauce scenario and being decidedly uncomfortable with that……my father would have been quite sympathetic on an abstract level but he wouldn’t have been willing to do anything about it”."
Goldman, 2003

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- Goldman, S. (2003). White Boyhood under Apartheid: The Experience of Being Looked After by a Black Nanny. Doctoral thesis: University of Pretoria
- photograph via

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Black Nannies

"The nanny phenomenon is closely allied to colonialism where servants administered ruling class needs. In South Africa, nannies are most often historically disenfranchised, working class, black woman."
Goldman, 2003

Photograph of a girl on the bench in Johannesburg taken by Peter Magubane, via

During the apartheid years, it was not only the affluent middle class who employed (black) domestic workers. White working classes had servants too.
South African domestic workers were legally bound by the Master-Servant Act. Non-performance and contractual breach included whipping and imprisonment. Domestic service was "a microcosm of the exploitation and inequality on which the entire social order was based". In this microcosm, the nanny experienced a "triple oppression": the intersection of ethnic, gender and class exploitation.
Live-in domestic workers lived in the "servant's quarter", typically at the back of the property. These were substandard living quarters without electricity and running water. They suffered extreme isolation since other people - their families, their friends - had no access. Due to the long working hours there was hardly any time to visit others. But even in their leisure time they were not free as they could be called in any time to do some extra work (Goldman, 2003).

Photograph taken on 18 May 1966: A white infant is bottle bed by her black nanny as her brother plays behind the "Nannies Only" seat in an all-white park in Johannesburg, via

"On any given day I would come home from school to find my nanny hanging out washing, or Samson, our neighbour's gardener, trimming the hedge between our houses. It never occurred to me that, other than nannies and gardeners, no one in my street was black. I never questioned why all my friends, except for a few snot-covered black toddlers who were sent home before they could talk, were white. I never wondered where home for those toddlers was. Never even thought to ask, as I helped my nanny pack her Christmas hamper, where she was going. (...)
Neatly segregated, I never noticed anything wrong with the way we were.
When I was 12, all that changed. As I stepped off my 'whites only' school bus, I had to step over the body of a black woman, the victim of a hit-and-run on Robert's Avenue. She was dressed in a green pinafore, the sort nannies wore. Someone had placed a newspaper over her face, but other than that, there was nothing to protect her from the sun, the ants and our curious stares. For three days she remained, unmoving, in front of my stop, and for three days I stepped gingerly over her, holding my breath. Eventually my mother called the police and demanded she be removed, commenting that they never would have left her there had she been white. The next day she was gone, but the knowledge that the indignity she had suffered was because of the colour of her skin stayed with me, and the way I viewed my world began to change.
Like many white South African children, I was in the care of a black nanny from an early age. By the time I stepped off that bus, I was a mish-mash of cultures, the purity of whiteness our government was trying so hard to preserve existed only on the surface. One of my earliest memories is of sitting at our kitchen table, talking to Gladys, my Zulu nanny, while a pot of mielie pap porridge bubbled on the stove. Served hot with butter and sugar, the porridge was delicious, though the pale yellow grains of ground maize made it a little gritty and I had to suck my teeth all the way to school."
Rachel Zadok

Photograph of children sitting on a bench along the waterfront in Durban taken by Dennis Lee Royle, via

"The human-to-human contact, as personal as it was, took place in a situation where race was the primary designator of social standing. Skin was the marker of not simply position in the economy, but supposedly also of superiority-inferiority. Historically this relationship was one of master and slave. It was in this larger context that both participants entered the relationship with a series of presumptions: for the master (and later his children) there was the supposition of dominance, where the servant had (been socialised and) come to accept her subordination.. Inevitably the domestic worker as a black person came to be a receptacle of revulsion (the prevailing cultural mores), “an opportunity for white children to discover and experiment with attitudes and styles of racial domination” (Cock, 1989, p. 57). Certainly domestic workers were subject to numerous practises and rituals of inferiority. These rituals of inferiority afforded the employer ego enhancements that emanated from having an ‘inferior’ present; validating her lifestyle, her class and her racial privilege, her entire social world. The relationship thus provided the employer with ideological justifications for the economic and racially stratified system in which she lived and from which she derived benefit."
Goldman, 2003

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- Goldman, S. (2003). White Boyhood under Apartheid: The Experience of Being Looked After by a Black Nanny. Doctoral thesis: University of Pretoria

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Narrative images: The Babysitter

"A young black girl, scarcely more than a child herself, looks after a baby girl for a white family. 1969." (literally via)

"In the post-war period, the South African government gradually developed a policy that was meant to permanently retain the rights and privileges of a white minority: apartheid, racial prejudices and tensions create difficulties in many societies, but only in South Africa was segregation institutionalized and regulated. The results were tragic and disturbing.
The camera of Ian Berry has uniquely recorded this aspect of the South African experience: the duty to ‘live apart’ while occupying the same space."

Magnum Photos
The photograph was taken by British photojournalist Ian Berry in South Africa where he worked for the Daily Mail and Drum magazine (via). Berry is the photographer who took "the photos that changed history". He was the only photographer to witness the Sharpeville massacre in 1960, an event that is now marked as a national holiday, one of the more brutal events in late-apartheid history with 69 people killed and 180 injured (via and via).

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photograph via Magnum Photos

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Suggestions for Collective New Year Resolutions

We will create a society with equal opportunities for everybody - no matter what age, gender, (dis)abilities, ethnicity, religion, no matter if straight or queer.
We will build cities that are accessible.
We will  not let populism use minority or disadvantaged groups to communicate simple messages ("us" versus "them") to create a polarised society.
We will remove the structural causes of homelessness.
We will create a society in which everybody has access to education and lifelong learning.

In 2018, I will...

... do anything I can do to combat ageism, to reframe ageing; I won't give up showing others the importance of valuing older people
... not lose my patience, will not lose my hope and belief in an intelligent society when hearing or reading discriminatory statements that are based on ignorance, fear or the need to construct a superior identity by creating an inferior "other"
... support projects that aim to raise awareness concerning racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia and islampophobia by writing about them and/or cooperating
... continue finding homelessness absolutely not acceptable for societies in the 21st century and - as I cannot change the system - make a modest contribution by helping at least one homeless person
... continue the project of raising awareness how to turn a/my city into a more inclusive city
... donate more often to the wonderful humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières
... focus my research on inclusion at schools, on diversity in class rooms
... continue showing people how beautiful diversity is
... be among the 8% of people who achieve their new year's resolutions.

Dear subscribers, I wish you all the best for 2018, all the best for our society. Thank you so much for passing by in 2017 and for leaving beautiful comments. Thank you for being interested in the beauty of diversity.

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Thanks, Paperwalker, for the photograph and the amazing drawings!

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Art & Gender Discount

"In the secondary art market, artists play no active role. This allows us to isolate cultural influences on the demand for female artists’ work from supply-side factors. Using 1.5 million auction transactions in 45 countries, we document a 47.6% gender discount in auction prices for paintings. The discount is higher in countries with greater gender inequality. In experiments, participants are unable to guess the gender of an artist simply by looking at a painting and they vary in their preferences for paintings associated with female artists. Women's art appears to sell for less because it is made by women."
Adams et al., 2017

Analysing about 1.5 million auction sales records from 1970 to 2013, the research group found that "respondents consistently ranked works they believed to have been made by male artists higher than those believed to be by female artists". This tendency could also be seen when the works had been created by an artificial intelligence. On average, works by women sell for 47.6% of the prices male artists fetch at auctions. The mean auction price for works by male artists is 48.21 dollars vs. 25.26 dollars for works by female artists (via).
"Male buyers are a driving force of the auction market and yet we see that they are also more likely to think that women’s art is inferior. Our research adds to the mounting evidence of discrimination towards women that is systemic to so many industries."
Roman Kräussl
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- Adams, R. B., Kräussl, R., Navone, M. A. & Verwijmeren, P. (2017). Is Gender in the Eye of the Beholder? Identifying Cultural Attitudes with Art Auction Prices. Available at SSRN:
- image of Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) via

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Quoting Frances McDormand

"We have a lot of conversations about aging and how difficult it is in our culture. I go on rants about it, I get a little too zealous about it and he cautions me to remember that not everyone ages the same way and I've been fortunate that I'm happy with the way I look and how I age."
Frances McDormand

"... the entire business for female actors that is a difficult proposition and one of the things is waiting for someone to give you an interesting role. I was a trained to be a classical theatre actress. If I had followed my career in the theatre I would have had many good roles because they've been written and they're there. There's a whole canon - you age through the three sisters and check off, you age through the Skakespearean canon. In film, the canon is a male protagonist canon. So, really, the only way to age as a female in male protagonists driven stories is in the relationship to the male protagonist: a daughter, sister, mother, grandmother..."
Frances McDormand

"We are on red alert when it comes to how we are perceiving ourselves as a species. There's no desire to be an adult. Adulthood is not a goal. It's not seen as a gift. Something happened culturally: No one is supposed to age past 45 — sartorially, cosmetically, attitudinally. Everybody dresses like a teenager. Everybody dyes their hair. Everybody is concerned about a smooth face.
I feel nostalgic for a time I didn't even have. The time before we regarded ourselves with such criticism."
Frances McDormand

"This is me. I, you know, this i why I got up this morning and this is how I looked."
Frances McDormand

"I want to be really connected to this (shows her face), how I've aged, how proud I am of what I have. I want to be a symbol for men and women to move through this very dangerous thing that we've created with the culture of celebrity and the need to be something other than ourselves. It kind of seems to me, at least in America, no one should age past 40. And if you do you should put a bag over your head or crawl into a hole."
Frances McDormand

"One of the reasons that I am doing press again after 10 years' absence is because I feel like I need to represent publicly what I've chosen to represent privately — which is a woman who is proud and more powerful than I was when I was younger. And I think that I carry that pride and power on my face and in my body."
Frances McDormand

"I want to be a role model for not only younger men and women — and not just in my profession, I'm not talking about my profession. I think that cosmetic enhancements in my profession are just an occupational hazard. But I think, more culturally, I'm interested in starting the conversation about aging gracefully and how, instead of making it a cultural problem, we make it individuals' problems. I think that ageism is a cultural illness; it's not a personal illness."
Frances McDormand

"I have not mutated myself in any way. Joel (Coen, her director husband) and I have this conversation a lot. He literally has to stop me physically from saying something to people — to friends who’ve had work. I’m so full of fear and rage about what they’ve done."
Frances McDormand

"I've got a rubber face. It has always served me very well and really helps, especially as I get older, because I still have all my road map intact, and I can use it at will."
Frances McDormand

"You are someone who, beneath that white hair, has a card catalog of valuable information."
Frances McDormand

"I want to be revered. I want to be an elder; I want to be an elderess. I have some things to talk about and say and help."
Frances McDormand

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photograph via

Thursday, 21 December 2017

The Pencil Test

"'If you're black and pretend you're Coloured, the police has the pencil test.'
'The pencil test?'
'Oh, yes, sir. They sticks a pencil in your hair and you has to bend down, and if your hair holds the pencil, that shows it's too woolly, too thick. You can't be Coloured with woolly hair like that. You got to stay black, you see.'"
(cited in Bowker & Leigh Star, 1999)

Race is pure fiction. And a racist system needs fictional classifications, it needs arbitrarily chosen criteria for the different "races", ridiculous criteria that justify inequality. In 1950, the Population Registraction Act and the Group Areas Act were passed in South Africa. These classifications determined the so-called racial group one belonged to and where one could live, work, ... People were divided into four groups: Europeans (White), Asiatics, Coloureds (mixed "race"), and Natives ("pure-blooded individuals of the Bantu race"); Coloureds and Natives were subdivided. Apartheid meant that "people had to be unambiguously categorizable by race", which of course they were not. As a result, different aspects of apartheid law classified a person differently. Jazz musician Vic Wilkinson, for instance, crossed the race line five times. His "race" changed e.g. when he married women of different ethnicities and moved to different neighbourhoods.

Theoretically, "reclassification" was possible. If a person was labelled Coloured and wished to be labelled White or European, they had thirty days to appeal the classification. The average waiting time, however, was 14 months during which the person continued to live as "Coloured". If - during that time - they enrolled at a Coloured school (as they had no access to a White school), this was later seen as legal evidence that they were Coloured. Even "associating with someone of the wrong group could become evidence of membership and thus of race." The reclassification system was "completely internally inconsistent", categories were conflicting, a mixed criteria of "appearance and general acceptance and repute" was used. Questions such as "Do you eat porridge" or "Do you sleep on the floor or in a bed" were asked to find out whether a person was White. Complexion, eyes, cheekbones, earlobes ("Natives have soft lobes") profiles, and hair were examined. Many underwent the pencil test. If the pencil fell out of a person's hair, they were not classified as Black (Bowker & Leigh Star, 1999).
"Many people did not conform to the typologies constructed under the law: especially people whose appearance differed from their assigned category, or who lived with those of another race, spoke a different language from the assigned group, or had some other historical deviation from the pure type. New laws and amendments were constantly being debated and passed (see, e.g. Rand Daily Mail, 1966). By 1985, the corpus of racial law in South Africa exceeded 3,000 pages (Lelyveld, 1985: 82)."
"The Director of Census was in charge of deciding everyone's racial classification, on the basis of the census data, and, where necessary, other records of vital statistics. Horrell notes: "But this classification is by no means formal. Section Five(3) of the Population Registration Act provides that if at any time it appears to the Director that the classification of a person is incorrect, after giving notice to the person concerned, specifying in which respect the classification is incorrect, and affording him or her an opportunity of being heard, he may alter the classification in the register" (1958: 4). So in the case of apartheid, we have the scientistic belief in race difference on the everyday level, and an elaborate formal legal apparatus enforcing separation. At the same time, a much less formal, more prototypical approach uses an amalgam of appearance and acceptance -- and the on-the-spot visual judgments of everyone from police and tram drivers to judges -- to perform the sorting process on the street."
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- South African schools under attack over Afro hairstyles ban (2016), LINK
- I was fired for refusing to tame Afro, LINK
- The Paper Bag Test, LINK
- Being African: What does hair have to do with it? LINK
- Good Hair (trailer), LINK
- The -ism Series (4): Racism, LINK

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- Bowker, G. C. & Leigh Star, S. (1999). Classification and its consequences. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press; link
- photograph of Diana Ross via