Good Friday, 1963
"I don’t refer to Canadian landscape as such, but to landscape generally. After all, as every artist has realized, the significance of nature does not lie in its physical properties, but in its spiritual ones.”
After finishing Americanah, a novel set in Nigeria, I was starved for another experience of Africa. I listened to some West African-themed playlists online, and one brought me to this album by the late Malian singer and guitarist Ali Farka Touré, Red & Green. Because I don’t understand the words the music seems incredibly abstract, built from separate streams of sound (some tinkling, some swirling, some pulsating) that surge ahead in gentle, endless cycles, so that the compositions don’t begin and end so much as come and go.
Touré, who died in 2006, recorded and toured abroad, but lived his entire adult life in Niafunké, the village where he had grown up. Yet this photograph of him in caftan and trousers, leaning on his acoustic guitar, beside a concrete fence, is profoundly urban. It has the formality, and rich black and white tones, of studio portraits by Malian photographers Seydou Keita and Malick Sidibe, and also the same sense that the subject is summoning his finest self for the camera. But there is something in the spirit of this picture, the way that Touré’s body, and the entire composition, open so broadly to the left, that suggest that the musician is not entirely captured here, that something slips away.
It’s a strongly graphic view, with bold, contrasting patterns: the grid of the fence, the hatching on the caftan, the stripes down the trousers. These fields are tied together by gently criss-crossing lines: that of Toure’s figure sloping to the right, his guitar tilted to the left, and the wall falling off to the far left. Touré wears generic twentieth-century century sandals, trousers and wristwatch, and plays a guitar that an American folk singer might. But the scene is clearly African. There is something about the low slant of the light, the bare ground, and Touré’s inscrutable expression — both remote and joyous — that tells us so. Here Touré, and Africa too, seem very far away.
Photograph courtesy of World Circuit.
Description: At 15, Henry Cole, later to find fame as organiser of the Great Exhibition began working with the records of the British government. Shocked at their poor condition he pioneered reform of what became known as the Public Record Office - now The National Archives. This rat, with a stomach full of chewed document, was used as evidence for the poor condition of the records.
Our Document Reference: E 163/24/31 This image is from the collections of The National Archives. Feel free to share it within the spirit of the Commons.
I don’t know what asshole invented the idea that teenage girls are the cause for all evil, but I really hope that person never has to raise one. I don’t want him to see her dissolve in his fingers as society tells her to eat less, be thinner, be the damsel in distress, be something for a man to fix, be different but not too different, be special but never ever a special snowflake - I don’t want him to watch as she realizes that no matter what she loves, she’ll be made fun of for it. She can simply like her coffee from Starbucks and suddenly she’s vapid and thinks herself poetic. She’ll want to play video games but be called a fake nerd, particularly if she poses in any remotely flirtatious way because for some reason despite the entire community playing games with poorly dressed women they still hate it when a real girl wears less clothing, she will be seen as trespassing in a specifically male space - but when she falls in love with a female-based television show for children, she’ll watch as men step on themselves to sexualize it. If she wants old-fashion romance she’s seen as being naive but at the same time is told to keep herself ‘pure’ for some dude that might not hurt her. If she admits to being anything, she makes herself a target. She will be told her worth is based on how much a man values her. She might love to cook but she’ll hate being asked to stay in the kitchen, she might love to read but get told she’s too introverted by half the population and ‘not that special’ by the other. If she loves to go out and party, she’s ‘just another college co-ed,’ if she loves to spend her friday nights watching anime, she’s a shut-in. God forbid she be proud of something: the words “I’m different from other girls” are a death sentence because we live in a society that doesn’t want to see women like that, a society that doesn’t like the idea maybe we all are actually different and not carbon copies of each other, maybe we all would like to feel unique and loved and worth knowing - maybe the real problem is that she will be raised to believe being a girl means silicone and photoshop and dying as a way to move forwards a plot - and she doesn’t want to be seen as that. When she says “I’m not like other girls,” she means she’s not like the girls she sees on tv, these invented two-dimensional creatures that say one line and then get chased down by monsters.
She can try all she likes. She’ll be shut down at every single fucking turn. What she doesn’t know is that they’re getting her ready for when she’s grown up because she’ll be so used to being stepped on she’ll just give up. Why respect women when you don’t even respect little girls?
And when she is burning up, when she mentions that her insides are volcanoes and her skin is too thin to contain them: she will be told she is hysterical, that she’s doing it for attention.
I don’t want him to watch as she shuts down, as she learns to live as a paradox, I don’t want him to see her rip herself to shreds in order to be perfect, I don’t want him to realize that there’s no way she’ll get help because she’s only doing what she’s told.
Teenage girls aren’t the downfall of society, society is the downfall of teenage girls. /// r.i.d (via inkskinned)
read it more than once(via oxfordcommaforever)