After Archives

“I say it because I want it to happen…

I write it because I don’t want it to be true.”

 

I begin with the lost: I read The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man for the first time some four years ago, sitting on a bus to New York. The bus, which had smelled overwhelmingly of pee at the start but had soon gained that neutral quality marked by the acclimation of the nose to the stench of life, had stalled in New Haven—had been stalled for the past hour and a half while we waited for a replacement coach to arrive and take us that last stretch of the journey.

I say we; I exaggerate. By we I mean me. Read more

Oh, Morals: Fallout 4 and Working Through Threat

Bethesda’s Fallout 4 has received a number of criticisms for its morality system–or rather, its lack thereof. One of the staple features of previous releases in the Fallout series, “karma” (a measurement of morally good vs morally bad decisions) required a sort of moral engagement with the world of the game. Read more

Glitches // Black Bodies // Remix: Side B

This is the second part of a discussion on glitches, black bodies, and social justice movements. You can find Side A here.

Glitches have traditionally been viewed as an error, a problem in need of fixing. As Olga Goriunova and Alexei Shulgin[1] write, “…a glitch is a short-term deviation from a correct value…The outcome of a glitch is not predictable. When applied to software…a glitch is an unpredictable change in the system’s behavior, when something obviously goes wrong” (emphasis their own). Oftentimes, the word is accompanied by choice phrases that express complete and total frustration when, inevitably, a computer freezes and your work is lost.

For the purposes of their argument, Goriunova and Shulgin’s decision to simplify “glitch” and use it as a means to signify “error,” makes much sense. In fact, in many cases, a glitch truly only is ever seen as an error (take a TV screen glitch or a glitch in an electronic system’s hardware, endlessly frustrating experiences for both the individual trying to use the system and the individual charged with fixing the problem). However, in defining a glitch solely as an error, Goriunova and Shulgin in fact miss the nuances that come into being when one attempts to define what the term “glitch” refers to in the modern digital space, particularly in terms of digital games.

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Glitches // Black Bodies // Remix: Side A

“Men simply copied the realities of their hearts when they built prison. They simply extended into objective reality what was already a subjective reality. Only jailers really believe in jails.”

—Richard Wright (The Outsider)

 

I begin with two moments, three months apart.

July 26th, 2015 marked the final day of activities for the inaugural Movement for Black Lives conference. Held at Cleveland State University, the conference aimed to bring together freedom fighters from across the nation in order to “begin the creation of a collective mission that matches the intensity, scale, urgency, and promise of the moment. This convening presents an opportunity for us to reflect on our histories of struggle, build a sense of fellowship that transcends geographical boundaries and begin to heal from the many traumas we face[1]”.

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Hangman, Hangman, What Fruit Do You Bear?

Southern trees bear a strange fruit

Blood on the leaves and blood at the root

Black bodies swinging’ in the Southern breeze

Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees

 

It’s curious, how no one knows the origin of the game hangman. A cursory search of various academic databases and archives yield a few results that offer a concrete tracing of its origins, if not its history.  Read more

When Change Means What?

This is the final post in a series of blog posts (that I began here, and continued here, here, and hereon Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things on the body, the nation, and postcolonial meta-narratives. In an attempt to parse the tensions I feel the in the book–and many others of its era–I continue my thoughts below. 

So, where does this all leave us? I began this series of blog post with an extensive close reading of one small, some might argue insignificant, scene in Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things. From this I concluded two things: 1) that the scene (and the novel as a whole) expressed a deep seeded anxiety around the concept of postcolonialism, and 2) this anxiety about postcolonialism pushes for an exploration of postcolonialism outside the structure (read: metanarrative) of postcolonialism. Read more

Ambiguously Brown is the New Black

My default position when it comes to the internet is that of a pur(sur)veyor.

Purveyor because I engage with the internet as an interface through which I can spread and promotes ideas, while also (metaphorically and literally) buy into the “goods” that others are selling. Surveyor because god-complexing is hard to avoid when it can oftentimes seem as if we can jump in and out of the world wide web and effect some change regardless of time, place, or physical/racial/gender limitations. Pursurveyor because I think I do a great job at persevering through the act of being on the internet–or any metaphysical space occupied by White Dudes. Read more

(Ex)Portability and Recrudescence

This post continues a conversation I began with this post and continued with this, and this post on Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things on the body, the nation, and postcolonial meta-narratives. In an attempt to parse the tensions I feel the in the book–and many others of its era–I continue my thoughts below. 

The God of Small Things obsesses over migration. In the first 20 pages alone, there are 5 instances of individuals migrating to and from Ayemenem; there are many more references to people travelling to and from places via highway, boat, motorbike, foot; they go to places like Australia, Canada, Great Britain. There is a sense that no one is ever where they want to be, where they’re supposed to be. No one is ever settled even when they are home. Why this agitation? Why this inability to stay still? Read more

Communist Movements and Postcolonial Metanarratives

This post continues a conversation I began with this post and continued with this post on Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things on the body, the nation, and postcolonial meta-narratives. In an attempt to parse the tensions I feel the in the book–and many others of its era–I continue my thoughts below. 

Let’s backtrack for a moment and take a look at one of the largest figures in the novel: the Communist movement.

As presented in the novel, the Communist movement is a nostrum:

“As a reformist movement that never overtly questioned the traditional values of a caste-ridden, extremely traditional community. The Marxists worked from within the communal divides, never challenging them, never appearing not to. They offered a cocktail revolution” (The God of Small Things, 64).

 

As Roy writes in the above quote, the movement—intended to overthrow the bourgeoisie and bring justice to and for the exploited proletariat—is nothing more than a “cocktail revolution.” It panders to each faction, easing fear of the Other for both. Chacko, uncle to the twins, epitomizes the waffling, self-serving tendencies of the movement. Oxford educated, Chacko often fondly invites the female workers at the factory to become comrades even as he reinforces the very ideals he ostensibly opposes: “[Chacko] would call pretty women who worked in the factory to his room, and on the pretext of lecturing them on labor rights and trade union law, flirt with them. He would call them Comrade, and insist that they call him Comrade back” (62). Read more

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