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Aug 22 2013

What Tribe in Africa?

She needed a holiday, she wanted to to throw up, but most of all she had to get a new pair of jeans. Skinny Fit Tough Love Rock Chic.

She was on the 29. Browsing the shop displays while passing through Camden High Street. Look of the Summer Shabby Cool Irresistible.

*Phone*

Hey, called you earlier but you didn’t pick up. You wanna grab dinner this w/end?

She didn’t.

Not after he insisted on paying for their ‘working lunch’. When she asked him what he listens to, he had said:

“Well, mostly dubstep. But, you know, I put on some phat reggae when I want to chillax every now and then.”

Did he just fucking wink, while saying ‘chillax’?

She liked the Jeans the girl in the front row was wearing. I really need to get a more urban look. What?

She couldn’t believe she just said “urban look” to herself. I am adopting the power point lingo from market research presentations.

*Phone*

- Hello mom!

- Just on my way home now.

- No. I’ve had dinner after work.

[…]

- But I like living alone mom…

- Yes.

- Yes.

- I know

- What tribe exactly in Africa do girls half my age already have three children mom?


Aug 19 2013

Some Tribe in Africa

After a sinful, protein rich breakfast; Jim or Tom or Dick or whatever his name was picked up the literary supplement of the Sunday newspaper. He presently preferred to keep his eyes on the passers-by on the street, however he found it necessary to bury his nose into reading material to avoid the gaze of the young waitress; who’s attractiveness intimidated him.

As soon as their eyes met he composed a flowchart in his head that started with the options [Don't talk to her] and [Chat her up]. The former was rather simple. The latter was a minefield of social interaction that ranged from moderate social embarrassment at best to a nightmare of Marital Bliss. With a little house in the burbs surrounded with white picket fence to keep the domestic misery from spreading out and prying eyes from oozing in.

He glanced through the supplement until he read: yes, I am a woman and an anti-feminist. So sue me. He fast-forwarded to the predictable part where the author, in a desperate bid to generate controversy for her latest book ‘The Castration’ had claimed our society effeminates men. In her defence she had conducted some irrefutable research to defend her argument. There are, like, tribes in Africa where young boys are expected to kill a lion or a tiger with bare hands to prove their manhood. But in a society like ours, a rite of passage ceremony consists of begging mom to buy a new smart phone or games console. John or Mark or Steve or whatever his name was, pictured the author looking at a map of Africa trying to pronounce the name of the like, tribe she spoke of in the interview.


Jun 3 2013

Dereyi Geçtik mi?

Öncelikle, konuşma hakkına sahip olabilmek için, ‘ortak davamıza’ olan sadakatimi sorgulayacak olanlara cuma gününden beri eylemlere türlü şekillerde katıldığımı söylemek istiyorum. Ben de direnişcilere yardım eden eczanelere ilk yardım malzemeleri taşıdım, ben de suratı gazdan kızarmış yabancilara talsit spreyledim, benim de evime gaz bombası atıldı. Sayar mısınız bilmem, ama yakınıma düşen gaz bombalarını başarısız da olsa geri tekmelemeye çalıştım. Başarısızlığımı farkeden bir arkadaş arkadan yetişip ‘aradan çekil abi’ diyerek gazı eliyle polise fırlatana kadar debelendim.

Aslında bu yazı, siperlerde ‘delikanlılar gibi’ cenk etmeyenlerin fikir beyan etmeye hakkı olmadığını düşünen abilerimize hitap etmek amaciyla yazılmış bir yazı değil. Bu yazı polisin şiddetine karşı sokaga atilip kendini başka bir şiddetin, başka bir faşizmin, başka bir vahşetin kucaginda bulan arkadaşlar için.

Toplumun farklı kesimlerinden gelen, farklı görüşlerden insanların ortak bir paydada buluşup mücadele verebilmeleri tabi ki son derece etkileyici. Birbirimizin dünya görüşünü, eylem stratejilerini onaylamaya hakkımız olup olmadığını tartışmak tabi ki saçma. Ancak eğer ‘omuz omuza’ mücadele verme retorikleri ciddiyse, tarafların birbirleriyle bazı konuları açık bir şekilde konuşabilmeye başlamaları gerekiyor.

Son bir kaç gündür kendi çevremde, düşünceleriyle hemfikir olduğum insanlar arasında tespit ettiğim, eleştirleri sonraya saklama yatkınlığı beni tedirginliğe sürüklüyor. Kimseye nasıl eylem yapması gerektiğini öğretmek gibi bir niyetim yok, tek derdim içimdekini dökmek ve etrafımdan her şeyin yolunda olduğuna dair cesaret almak. Ancak bunu yaparken de umut ediyorum ki beni doğru yolda olduğumuza ikna edecek olan arkadaşlarım da, artık yavaş yavaş kendi fikirlerini ortaya çıkarmak konusundada bir nebze olsun cesaretlenirler.

Ayıya, dayı demek gereken durumlara aşikar bir toplumuz elbet. Fakat, yoldaşlarımızın polisi seks işçilerinin evlatları olmakla suçlamasına, karşısında mücadele ettiğimiz insanlara ‘ibne’ denmesine, ‘türküz, türkçüyüz’ diye slogan atılmasına daha ne kadar tahamül etmemiz gerekiyor?

Bu şekilde davranan yoldaşlarımızın tavırlarını açıklayabilecek bir çok sebep var. Katılan insanların çoğunun ilk defa sokağa seslerini duyurmak için çıktıkları ve davranışlarının etrafındakileri nasıl etkilediğinin farkında olmadıkları sempati duyulabilecek bir bahane. Ancak bu tür tavırlar karşısında sessiz kalmak için bir bahane değil.

Sormamız gereken soru: ‘eşcinselliğin, seks işçiliğinin, Türk olmamanın, olmak istememenin aşağılama unsuru olmadığını farketmiş olan sadece ben miyim?’ Kendimizi bu elitizmden arıttığımız zaman, etrafımızdakilerle sonunda gerçek bir iletişime girebiliriz. Örneğin ‘Velev ki ibneyiz, alışın her yerdeyiz’ gibi sloganların gücü, çevremizi varlığımıza uyandırmaktır. Kimin askeri olduğumuza dair ortak konsensüs varsayımlarını ‘öldürmiycez ölmiycez kimsenin askeri olmıycaz’ diyerek kıracak cesareti artık bulmamız gerekiyor.

Birlikte mücadele verdiğimiz insanlar, içten bir şekilde etraflarındaki herkesin kendileriyle hemfikir olduğu görüşünde olabilirler, hatta kimileri durumun sevimsiziliğinin farkında olmalarına rağmen susuyor, veya bu tür davranışlara katılıyor olabilirler. Önermek istediğim çözüm, bu yoldaşlarımızı korkaklıkla suçlamak yerine, onlara cesaret vermek. Inanıyorum ki bu tarz sevimsiz tavırlara katılan arkadaşlardan büyük bir çoğunluğu etrafılarındaki insanların da kendileri gibi düşüğünden bihaber oldukları ve kendilerini yalnız zannetikleri için çaresizlik içerisindeler.


May 24 2013

A Tale of Two Revolutions: Towards a Study of Western Sexual Stereotypes of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in the ‘Age of Aquarius’. [Unfinished Rough Draft]

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

-Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens’ immortal opening words from A Tale of Two Cities makes a sharp point about privileging contemporary political considerations, over maintaining an integrous standard of historical inquiry; characterised less by the ‘noisiness’ of it’s assertions, and more by the acknowledgement of ambivalence that surrounds human interactions, both past and present.
Charles Dickens’ criticism of historical thinking that relies on superlatives to make sense of events is echoed many years later in Arif Dirlik’s invitation to ‘ambivalence’ when reflecting on the perception of the Cultural Revolution in the United States: “Much of the problem with the past and present interpretations of the Cultural Revolution lies in a refusal of ambivalence in favour of clear-cut positions that have ideologically suppressed one aspect or another of this complex historical event.” (Dirlik 2003 p159).
It is difficult to come up with reasons as to exactly why, a “refusal of ambivalence” dominates Occidental understandings of the Cultural Revolution. However, if we can identify the most prevalent superlatives that dominate the discourse we can begin to see the emergence of certain central tropes and the kinds of cross cultural interactions these tropes legitimise.

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May 12 2013

*Flush*

I saw a man crouched over a porcelain bowl
With a brush in his hand,
Scrubbing
Intently

I approached and asked him,
“Why kind sir,
are you so keen?”

He said:
“I intend to defecate on this bowl,
This bowl has to be clean.”


Apr 30 2013

Star Wars and the Myth of the Nuclear Family

From sapling to monster. Tribulations of a young man growing up without a father.

Comrades,

Most of you must be familiar with the Star Wars series. If not it really is not worth making an effort to familiarise yourself with this masterpiece of mediocrity, just for this article. Especially since I will be focusing on the less popular ones, namely episodes 1,2,3. That being said, I have no great love for the ‘original’ movies either. It has just been way too long since I have seen them, and have no idea whether they confirm my totally fabricated opinion.

Anyway, what happens in episodes 1,2,3 is essentially we watch Anakin Skywalker grow from an exceptionally talented sapling, into a full grown jedi.

[Brief note here, I have just discovered that my computer's spellcheck, insists on typing 'jedi' with a capital 'J'. The absurdity of course is that I do not get an irritating red underline when I write 'god' without a capital letter. As atheist as I am, I find it concerning that a (supposedly) informed decision has been made to encourage computer users to revere 'sacred' symbols that are known to be fictional instead of sacred symbols whose existence there is a debate over. I will persist bravely, at the risk of offending the 'force' and being struck blind by it or some shit of that nature. In fact the theme of comparing contemporary popular culture will (or may, since I haven't the faintest idea how this will end up) be of great relevance to the rest of this article]

It is widely known that one of the great inspirations for Lucas in the making of Star Wars was the works of Joseph Campbell on the Monomyth. Campbell suggests that all myths have in common the ‘rite of passage’ storyline. There is of course greater detail in description, certain elements are detailed in specific like the appearance of a far sighted goddess, the receiving of a special item, the survival of some ordeals that come close to death etc…

Campbell’s works with their emphasis on the trial of passage story arc, that ends with the hero becoming ‘a real man’, as expected, place a tremendous importance on assorted macho imagery. The heroes in question go through a range of tribulations to prove that they have understood the wisdom of their invariably male mentor, save for placing their peckers against the chosen measuring implement of whatever fantastic land they come from.

Essentially the entire Star Wars saga could have been resolved by Anakin and Luke taking out their members. But instead we have to endure watching the said gentlemen wave shiny penis substitutes to make entire armies submit to their virility, before they can get to each other.

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Aug 17 2012

The Unbearable Lightness of Being an Expatriate

Comrades,

I have struggled with the thought of writing something about my experience of living in Taipei for four years. I have complained, sometimes loudly to my friends, about the community of foreigners that I often had little choice but to hang out with.

I have always wrestled internally about what my opinion of Taipei should be. On the one hand I have genuinely wanted to discover it and take its pulse, on the other I have not made the necessary efforts to sally too far off from the expat community with whom I shared the comfort of a common language and cultural references.

Several months ago, upon seeing my photography of Taipei, a close friend remarked: “I would say you are rather fond of Taipei, despite your recriminations”. It is true that my most intimate moments with the city have been when I went out with a camera, pounding its pavements for hours on end. The occasions have given me the opportunity to appreciate Taipei in my own way, instead of parroting somebody else’s lines like: “oh it’s so convenient!” or “I feel like I can do anything here!”

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May 14 2012

[Important] Complaint by Police , Please pay your Attention !!

This is an email I have received from my University’s International Affairs Office. I am sharing it for lulz.

Subject: [Important] Complaint by Police , Please pay your Attention !!

Greetings Fellow Students,

The way we carry ourselves and portray ourselves has a direct impact on the impression of how the Taiwanese think of us and the people who we represent.
As representatives of our countries, we owe it to ourselves and our nations to give the Taiwanese and others the best impression of our homelands.
Furthermore, as guests of Taiwan, we have an even higher obligation to act and behave in a manner that we ourselves would want of foreigners in our own home countries.

The Office of International Affairs(OIA) has received a complaint regarding gathering of students and consumption of alcohol at the 7-11 mart by the North Gate of our campus. The complaint was made by residents of the apartment complex to the Police who forwarded the complaint to the OIA.

The complaint was about inappropriate and noisy behavior by a group of International students.
In the past, as you are probably aware, there have been other complaints about inappropriate behavior at the same location as well.
The behaviors reported is definitely not befitting of educated and mannered people.

As such, from now on, consumption of Alcohol and gathering in front of the 7-11 mart by the north gate of the NCTU main Campus is banned.
The police is aware of this situation as well and will take necessary action if need be.

As you know, we are all guests of this wonderful country. Individually, we represent our own countries, but collectively, as International students, we represent the whole International student body in Taiwan. Please act and behave in a mature and responsible manner that befits people who are educated and being educated at high quality institutions.

The reputation of the International students, our home countries and the university is at stake.
We trust that each one of us want to make ourselves and our countries look good. We must also make NCTU look good since we are all proud students of NCTU.

Let us use this opportunity to remind ourselves of the opportunity to be here and ensure that while in Taiwan or anywhere for that matter, we act in a manner that would make ourselves, our university, our families and our countries proud.

So, We are requesting to you all , please stop drinking near by 7-11 .

Hope you will try to understand.

Thanks for your consideration.


May 8 2012

Stereotyping Gender: Occidental Reflections on Asian Sexuality.

Comrades,

Whether we like it or not, the past century has been concluded with the unquestionable triumph of the Euro-American civilisation. And like all other civilisations this one too has spun tall yarns about why it’s ‘way of life’ is the most superior and how it’s morals are the most valid. What sets apart Euro-American ideals of the good life from all of it’s rivals, is the degree of prominence they have acquired. Evidently, the prominence in question is not so much due to any intrinsic values inherit in Occidental culture as it is to the military and economic power behind it. After all, is it any wonder that the same cultural paradigm that launched the crusades, colonised the entire known world for over a century and ‘liberated’ countless nations from the horrifying perils of planned economy; is now standing on the tallest soapbox to preach about what political system is best, how money should be spent and even how we should express our sexuality.

The implication that the way we express our sexual identity is shaped by a political force may strike the more naive readers as ludicrous. “Surely something as intimate as how I make sweet love is an individual matter”, he or she may cry. It certainly is not this author’s intention to precipitate a state of gloom to those blissfully unaware of the extent to which the consumerist paradigm shapes the most private aspects of our lives.

The consumerist dream of success, carries with it certain assumptions. It shapes our ideals of beauty and self fulfilment. At the core of the consumerist dream is the suggestion that it is the most ‘natural’ way of organising society. It convinces us that humanity is greedy, that life is nasty, brutish and short and the only way to prevent humanity from destroying itself is to allow for a political economy that will permit the expression of it’s insatiable desires.

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Mar 17 2012

The Year of the Voiceless

One of the great advantages of looking at 2011 from Taiwan is that writing an article reviewing the year of the rabbit is still a legitimate endeavour in the month of February. Although, it has to be said, even in the less fortunate parts of the world, where New Year is celebrated only once, 2011 will resist being shelved away as ‘soo last year’ well into March or even April.

The fortunate coincidence that the yearly celebration cycle, gives a second chance for commentators who were too busy to write in December, is not the only interesting aspect of looking at the world from Taiwan.

Those of us who have a certain familiarity with this island, understand quite well that we are living in a geographic region that is ill understood and whose voice often goes unheard. In fact, Taiwan is exceptional in its conduciveness to misunderstanding. Its unique relationship with China lies at the core of this bewilderment. The extent to which Taiwan is part of China and the extent to which it is an independent nation are both endless sources of confusion.

China itself induces a state of intellectual disarray on most Western observers. In the words of sinologist Francois Billeter: “China is more and more present in the world. But at the same time it is absent. We don’t hear its voice.” Taiwan, thanks to its complicated relationship with this already mystifying civilization, starts off on the race for global attention on the wrong foot. The fact that the island nation is largely unrecognized in international diplomacy does not help it to make its voice heard.

It is for this reason that those of us dwelling in Taiwan have an even more significant understanding of the developments around the world in the past year. Because 2011 has been the year in which those who seemed forever doomed to silence finally gained a voice. So many actors whom most never even knew existed appeared on the world stage, that we can make an exception in renaming the year of the rabbit the year of the voiceless.

Let us first look at what has arguably been the most significant social movement, namely the Arab Spring. Since time immemorial, occidental observers have scornfully assumed that non-autocratic forms of governance are fundamentally incompatible with the Muslim population of the region. Dismissing the rather obvious fact, that the majority of the ruthless dictators in the region, were granted power by the benevolent might of the neo-colonial powers.

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