"Some or all depression derives from political despair, as Cvetkovich rightly situates it —although I would have liked for the book to have carried through on its original promise, to look more closely and critically at the cultural components of depression, at how it really is a public feeling (as opposed to keeping depression, as Cvetkovich mostly does, inside). Depression can be political, can be a process of breaking through. What others—family members and bosses, in television commercials—see as depression can be in fact the use of one’s own body as a site of refusal to participate and function fully in capitalism, (hetero)normative social behavior, or gendered labor: an ongoing space to cultivate one’s self as a political and sovereign subject by shutting down. Why is Cvetkovich in such a hurry to get over depression? Perhaps what appears as a space of nonaction and passivity, is actually a site of activism, a strike of sorts, of bodily contemplation, of working through. The girl in bed can be a type of activist. Perhaps there is something worthwhile in her failing and flailing and documenting it. In Cvetkovich’s reclamation of the “girl culture” of diary writing, she notes rightly that this practice now most often happens on the Internet, yet in this wild confessionalism of Tumblr girls, both white and of color, I see the potentially radical that diverges from Cvetkovich’s project. Online I see contemporary examples of the agitated and restless and hopeless, of Ahmed’s “angry black woman” and “feminist killjoy” who are well-versed in the discourse of therapy and sometimes refuse rehabilitation — “self-care” being an ambivalent, popular hashtag. These are girls who have come of age reading feminist confessional literature and affect theory, and they’re performing this constant awareness of the self in their diary entries and selfies, performing rage and sadness as if against the culture and all its desirous consumers and consumptives. They posit that the petty too, and all of our tremendous feelings, can be political."
Kate Zambreno, “Melancholy and the Infinite Sadness”
i am reading Depression right now (in the middle of the race chapter in fact) and there is a lot about about it that feels really important to me. KZ is right, i think, that it feels very tidy, tidy. kate durbin and alicia eler wrote a great piece about the tumblr teen girl aesthetic last week which gets a lot of the things that KZ feels cvetkovich neglects, the filth of it all, girls having feelings on the internet.
i think cvetkovich is in a hurry to get over depression because it feels fucking awful. in my own tendencies towards what i mostly call melancholy rather than depression, the advice to keep moving IS important, is vital. (to me personally). i think the tidiness is part of that. i haven’t finished the book yet but i don’t find it moralizing. perhaps this is part of my own situatedness, as someone with a Protestant Work Ethic, who also works in social services, where my job is to provide people with some tools so they don’t fall apart/stay apart, because we live in a culture that for the most part doesn’t support people who are fallen apart, the help that is available is limited, contingent, so one must “do they best one can with what one has,” and how that’s a matter of survival.
i’ve been thinking a lot about mental health and privilege, reading depression and a 1950s “abnormal child psychology” manual that’s research for a writing project i’m doing, thinking about movement and stasis, how if i stop moving i feel like i am going to die, but on the other hand kate’s statement that ‘the girl in bed can be political.’
i mean i think it’s really important to point out/situate cvetkovich’s depression as privileged. it would be a very different book if she were a welfare mom with mental illness or if she were someone who relied on antipsychotics in order to be “functional”— there definitely would have been different forces, including forces of the State making her get out of bed— and she critiques the idea of functional, definitely, which i think is important,but in her depression journals she is never unstably housed or food insecure. she’s writing about a particular sort of depression that is political and professional, Left Melancholy and academic, which is a depression i have experienced. i think it’s important to chart that depression because culturally we rely on academics to do this sort of work as people without bodies, or bodies without organs (probably this is a misuse of deleuze but watch me not care), and to think about the psychic/somatic effects of intellectual labor is super important, how i also want to read this kind of work about the effects of care work with its attendant feminization, low wages, and persistent/ambient trauma.
i think about the clients i meet at my work, all their trauma, and they don’t have a bed to stay in with their depression, how pragmatic we have to be in helping them, how irresponsible, it would be, as a “social service provider” or w/e to tell someone, yes bad things have happened to you, stay in bed and languish, document your sorrow on tumblr or instagram, you know?
it just feels like radically different worlds, and i feel like i touch both but belong in neither, which is really just another form of White Girl Alienation, so, at the end of the day my feelings are insignificant in the world, which is as it should be.
this really gets at the conflicted feelings i had after finishing the book
As often as Kanye West talks about the state of his mental health, one would think that we’d be having a national conversation on mental health–kind of like the way we had a wave of conversations about domestic violence in the wake of the Chris Brown-Rihanna incident. Yet, in the four years since Kanye began talking openly about the depression related to the death of his mother and the dissolution of his romantic relationship with longtime paramour Alexis Phifer, the conversations have continued to be one-sided.
A search for “Kanye West and Depression” brings up surprisingly few articles and discussions. There’s a sterile AP article describing his initial comments, Cord Jefferson advising Kanye to go to a therapist on The Root, an MTV news article on his path to recovery, and Tom Breihan in the Village Voice distilling 808′s and Heartbreak down to “emo bellyaching” and a “album-length tantrum at his ex.” While Bassey Ikpi later argued to have some compassion for Kanye, it was one small plea in a sea of indifference and condemnation.
After four years of being open about pain and vulnerability, I’m starting to wonder if society will ever really hear him.
— The R’s editor/owner Latoya Peterson is posting about mental health—in pop culture and in daily lives—all this week. Check out her analysis on Kanye West’ 808’s and Heartbreak and how badly pop/media culture handled his discussing his mental health on the album on the R today. (via racialicious)
kanye west and i have the same opinion on kanye west
Black women are, it seems, damned if we do and damned if we don’t. Our collective singleness, independence, and unsanctioned mothering are an affront to mainstream womanhood. But a high-profile married black woman who uses her husband’s name (if only for purposes of showbiz) or admits the influence her male partner has had on her life is an affront to feminism.
Wilson says that in the context of pathologized black womanhood and black relationships, Beyoncé and the Knowles-Carter clan “counter a narrative about our families that has been defined by the media for too long about what our families must look like and how they’re comprised.” Black women’s sexuality and our roles as mothers and partners have been treated as public issues as far back as slavery, even as family life for most citizens has been viewed as a private matter. Our nation’s “peculiar institution” treated human beings—black human beings—as property. And so, black women’s partnering—when and whom we partnered with and the offspring of those unions—were at the very foundation of the American economy. According to Jackson, “People would talk about black women’s sexuality in polite company like they would talk about race horses foaling calves.”
Like critiques of her sexed-up performances, response to Beyoncé’s recent pregnancy illustrates that black female bodies remain fodder for public gossip. Even with the devotion of mainstream media (especially the entertainment and gossip genres) to monitoring female celebrities’ sexuality, “baby bumps,” and engagement rocks, the speculation about Beyoncé’s womb stands apart as truly bizarre. Almost as soon as the singer revealed her pregnancy at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards, there was conjecture—amplified by a televised interview in which the singer’s dress folded “suspiciously” around her middle—that it was all a ruse to cover for the use of a surrogate.
The HBO documentary, which chronicled her pregnancy, failed to quiet the deliberation. Gawker writer Rich Juzwiak proclaimed, “Beyoncé has never been less convincing about the veracity of her pregnancy than she was in her own movie…. We never see a full, clear shot of Beyoncé’s pregnant, swanlike body. Instead it’s presented in pieces, owing to the limitations of her Mac webcam. When her body is shown in full, it’s in grainy, black-and-white footage in which her face is shadowed.” There is, in this assessment, a disturbing assumption of ownership over Beyoncé’s body. Why won’t this woman display her naked body on television to prove to the world that she carried a baby in her uterus?
The conversation surrounding Beyoncé feels like assessing a prize thoroughbred rather than observing a human woman, and it is dismaying when so-called feminist discourse contributes to that. Feminism is about challenging structural inequalities in society, but the criticism of Beyoncé as a feminist figure smacks of hating the player and ignoring the game, to twist an old phrase.
— Tami Winfrey Harris, “All Hail The Queen?” Bitch Magazine 5/20/13 (via racialicious)
"Urbanization is a channel through which surplus capital flows to build new cities for the upper class. It is a powerful process that newly defines what cities are about, as well as who can live there and who can’t. And it determines the quality of life in cities according to the stipulations of capital rather than those of people."
— David Harvey on SPIEGEL ONLINE (via jayaprada)
"The day unravels what the night has woven. When we awake each morning, we hold in our hands, usually weakly and loosely, but a few fringes of the carpet of lived existence, as woven into us by forgetting. However, with our purposeful activity and, even more, our purposive remembering, each day unravels the web, the ornaments of forgetting."
— Walter Benjamin, “On the Image of Proust” (via heteroglossia)
"The ‘modern’, the time of hell. The punishments of hell are always the newest thing going in this domain. What is at issue is not that ‘the same thing happens over and over,’ and even less would it be a question here of eternal return. It is rather that precisely in that which is newest the face of the world never alters, that this newest remains, in every respect, the same. —This constitutes the eternity of hell. To determine the totality of traits by which the ‘modern’ is defined would be to represent hell."
— Walter Benjamin, Arcades Project, [S1,5], Ed. Rolf Tiedemann (1999)
In the frictions of a rapidly developing and urbanizing world, human rights are increasingly violated by the organization of space. Just like gun or the tank, mundane building matter is abused as weapons with which crimes are committed. The application of international law as the most severe method of architectural critique has never been more urgent. Crimes relating to the organization of the built environment, originating on computer screens and drafting tables, call for placing an architect/planner, for the first time, on the accused stand of an international tribunal. International justice must bypass the legal system of states (usually complicit in such cases) and decide whether a particular planning practice deviated from the naturally aggressive character of planning and its “acceptable” level of “collateral damage” to qualify as a violation of international law. When an architect’s design premeditatedly aims to cause material damage - as part of a largescale policy of organized aggression - a war crime may have been committed.
Eyal Weizman, The Evil Architects Do: Crimes of Urbicide and the Built Environment
"Urbanism is not only the condition of heterogeneity, multiplicity or density, it’s the turning of conflict into form. The condition of the urban is one that creates a proximity of conflicts… | Eyal Weizman"
— Fulcrum # 49 | Political Plastic (via ureestudio)
terry richardson is the new andy warhol in that he is a stupid fucker who sucks at “art” and needs a cool babe to literally shoot him
"My sense of these aesthetic possibilities comes from the way in which digitality provides sets of lived circumstances in which our senses are encroached upon, engaged and felt differently. Living life in relation to digital computation is about the emergence of a spatiality and duration in which relative speeds and differential relations are foregrounded in our corporeal negotiation of the world. New media art offers us specific and unique insights into the rearrangements of ‘blocks of sensation.’ In exploring the possibilities of machine perception—…the differential speeds of engagement demanded from interactant and producer, the differential speeds of information itself, where instantaneity is coupled with interminable arrests, crashes and system failures—we can begin to see the the aesthesia of the digital operate. Digital aesthesia provides a set of conditions for machine perception…The relations of movement that make up the speed of a particular body, machine or human, also allow it to be affected by and affect other bodies"
Anna Munster, Materializing New Media
(for this playing the home game, this is sort of what I was going on about last night in that dumb post re: Google Glass)
"I do not see the relation between art and politics in terms of two separately constituted fields, art on one side and politics on the other, between which a relation would need to be established. There is an aesthetic dimension in the political and there is a political dimension in art."
— Chantal Mouffe (via jungjoo)