[re]public spaces

15 04 2010

Merriam Webster defines a republic as “a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them”. The caveat here, of course, is that the citizen bears little power, if any at all. The supposed power held by the citizen is legally bequeathed to the government in the process of voting, meaning that the opportunity to assume and assert power is fleeting and contingent at best.

Still, there is something unique about this definition. Contrary to thoughts regarding the innate hierarchy of systems of power that suggest it to run top-down, the definition challenges this fundamental assumption by presupposing the power of the citizen over and above the power of the institution. But there is another form of power that precedes the body of citizens and one that is nearly impenetrable to the influence of institutional forms of power only if and when it is understood as so. This power is consciousness.

The inspiration for [re]public spaces draws upon the struggle between one’s individual consciousness and the institution, such as the state or the corporate body, in an effort to define and take ownership of everyday public spaces and our activities within—this can also be described as the quotidian. The body of work seeks to look at the seemingly banal ways in which the individual citizen of a public environment engages with and responds to power. …Keep reading after the jump

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Critical Reflection 4: the notion of Ideology

15 04 2010

What is democracy? Communists are said to have claimed that the Soviet dictatorship was the only true proletariat democracy, while Hitler and Mussolini are both said to have believed that their respective systems of governance were higher, more real forms of democracy (Shields, 1958: pp 29).

Democracy can be understood simply as a system of governance. Its roots lay in Plato’s Republic emerging from the Greek word demokratia – rule of the people (ibid). However, this definition is hardly exhaustive and as such, fails to capture its complexity when we consider that democracy, as defined by the Merriam-Webster (2010), “is a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation”. The Oxford English Dictionary (2004) maintains this definition but adds that a “democracy is a state of society characterized by a formal equality of rights and privileges”. …Keep reading after the jump





I met the walrus.

25 03 2010

In 1969, a 14-year-old Beatle fanatic named Jerry Levitan, armed with a reel-to-reel tape deck, snuck into John Lennon’s hotel room in Toronto and convinced John to do an interview. 38 years later he made a film about it.

Cheers to taking a chance.





Power in numbers

9 03 2010

The peculiar thing about music is the means through which it allows the listener to escape in the most passive way, and yet, the music industry is perhaps one of the most restricted businesses out there. This is especially true in light of recent shifts in copyright legislation both at home and abroad, like the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which criminalizes the dissemination of atrists works through digital means in what would have previously been considered fair use (or fair dealing, here in Canada). It is specifically targeted at those who use the unregulated internet as a means of circumventing the copyright laws of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The Act also restricts how much control artists have over their own music.

Some artists have taken a stance against these shifts and against the amounts of profit for which artists are robbed of by their labels. Canada’s very own Broken Social Scene which is comprised of as few as 6 and as many as 19 members – all of whom perform with other groups or as solo acts – has retained their independent status by working with independant labels and actually give away some of their music for free!

I think BSS stands for something more, though. The groups is a powerful collective of incredible artists, including Feist, Emily Haines and James Shaw from Metric, members from the Stars, and a host of other notable Canadian indie sensations. They represent the power in numbers. Not numbers in terms of wallets; but numbers in terms of how many people they can bring together under one roof, or within one medium, and how seemingly disparate these people can be.

Below is first release off of their forthcoming album, Forgiveness Rock Record, due May 4th. You can listen to it here. If you like it, click on the link above the playbar and you’ll be re-routed to the BSS website where you can download it for free.

Broken Social Scene – World Sick

And because they are so awesome, here are a couple more:

Broken Social Scene – Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old

Broken Social Scene – Almost Crimes

Broken Social Scene – Cause = Time]
http://soundbites.typepad.com/files/BSS_cause-time.mp3





Critical Reflection 3: the notion of discourse

5 03 2010

Elton John recently caused a stir amongst the Catholic Church and other Christian followers when he proclaimed that Jesus Christ was gay. He said, “I think Jesus was a compassionate, super-intelligent gay man who understood human problems” (AFP, 2010).

The Catholic Church responded by saying, “Jesus was certainly compassionate, but to say he was ‘super-intelligent’ is to compare the son of God to a successful game-show contestant […]More seriously, to call Jesus a homosexual is to label him a sexual deviant.” (AFP, 2010).

How do we know Jesus Christ was not a homosexual? And what gives the Church the power to respond to John’s statement with such assertion? Perhaps the better question might be: how have we come to know Jesus Christ was not a homosexual? And what processes shape(d) this understanding? …Keep reading after the jump





The Machine, hard at work.

4 03 2010

While under a different government, our home and native land decriminalized homosexuality and made it legal for same-sex couples to marry. But the current Conservative regime, with a failed attempt to ‘re-visit’ said issues in December of 2006 and little currency to undo the past, have opted to take a more coercively-passive approach to maintain their political ideologies and overarching dominant discourse on the matter.

In a new guide for immigrants applying for Canadian citizenship, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Jason Kenney, has had any reference to Canada’s progressive strides made on gay rights quashed. The Globe and Mail reported: “Internal documents show an early draft of the guide contained sections noting that homosexuality was decriminalized in 1969; that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation; and that same-sex marriage was legalized nationally in 2005”. Despite having sided with same-sex marriage proponents in the 2005 parliamentary debates, Kenney is said to have “ordered those key sections removed”.

Kenny is but a pawn in much larger game – a game premised on dichotamizing ideologies that invariably forge a rift between the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. In lieu of the preach on the abandonment of issues of equality for which our country has made many significant movements on its short history, I’d like to note that the politics of exclusion here pose both a hindrance and an instrument of empowerment. 

On the one hand, these ideologies attempt to suppress if not wholly erase history, imposing increased resistance upon the already marginalized; on the other,  the values of a suite of marginalized communities and their thoughts towards the way history is managed on the part of their government are verified, creating a parallel history that can and will be resurrected.





Critical Reflection 1: The notion of truth

2 02 2010

These initial weeks have indicated that the notion of truth is going to play a significant role in our definition of power. It became immediately apparent that the idea of truth is not about what is true so much as what is defined as true, how it is defined as true, and perhaps what is most important in our discussion on power and stratification, who defines truth. Who, in this case, need not be defined as one person; who represents a collective and the ways in which these ideas are propagated and sustained… Keep reading after the jump