Thursday, May 28, 2015

Meena Chopra's Ephemera and David Hook's Tangible:
Art in the Multicultural Era

Meena Chopra: Poetess, Artist, Oriental Goddess Par Excellence

I started a small project, which should have been simple enough, but I entered territory which I thought I had long abandoned: that of directly confronting liberal Canada. And I quickly realized how far worse things had become.

I presented a modest paper titled Reclaiming Beauty: Saving Our Western Civilization at last year's Power of Beauty conference held with the Franciscan University and the Dietrich von Hildebrand Hildebrand Project in Steubenville, Ohio. I thought that having John Henry Crosby and John F. Crosby, the father and son team who organized the conference and translated and edited Hildebrand's recently published memoirs My Battle Against Hitler: Faith, Truth, and Defiance in the Shadow of the Third Reich, to come here in the local centers of learning in Mississauga would provide an evening of stimulating intellectual activity.

There are two universities nearby: Sheridan College and The University of Toronto's Mississauga campus. The schools were accommodating enough, telling me to fill in forms, and giving me the rates for renting out rooms for the event.

Then I went to the cultural centers, including the Art Gallery of Mississauga, which provide meeting rooms for lease. I thought having the lecture in the middle of paintings and sculptures would accentuate the concept of beauty.

I also visited parks, gardens and nature conservations, which also earn some of their keep through leasing out their halls. Beauty, art and nature seemed a fitting combination.

There is also a large branch of Mississauga's public library, and it was the Canadiana Room, a small research center in the library which caught my attention. I had submitted the Crosby book to be included in the library's collections, and I thought that having them lecture in the library would be fitting.


The library's website presents the Canadiana Room thus:
The Canadiana Reading Room, located on the 3rd floor of Mississauga Central Library, offers in-depth research resources for the study of Mississauga history, as well as extensive material on early Ontario history and selected Canadian history.
Besides its unique collections, the room has chairs, tables and book cases of pleasant light brown wood. The room is almost always empty, unlike the rest of the library which is full of patrons of mostly students preparing for their classes.

Marian Kutarna, who as far as I can tell is "Manager: Arts and History Department" of the library, although there appears to be someone of higher authority than her, was apparently the one to interact with when booking this room. And she is important not because she finds empty spaces in the booking manual, but because she decides who gets in and who doesn't.

She is cleverly stupid, as all fascistic gate-keepers are, especially if they are trying to be the "good guys." I realized quikcly, for instance, that she was trying to avoid an "email trial."

I sent her at least three emails at the beginning, and she never answered any of them. I then kept returning to the Canadiana room, to ask her various assistants (and volunteers - libraries love to use their hapless patrons as "volunteers") what I should expect, and also to do some independent research. I got mixed-messages from her assistants: "She is in a meeting" and hopeful ones: "We're taking this project on," and still nothing, until I figured out the hours she worked, and went at those times.

She was effusive, friendly and fake. I caught on, and asked if she would email me the reasons why she wouldn't have the event in the room, especially since, through some research in the library's database, I found that the Canadiana Room had sponsored and organized other author talks. And these authors are primarily non-white and non-Western.

So that was probably my answer. And that was probably why Kutarna was trying to keep her email track as bare as possible, to avoid just the kinds of questions I was asking her. But, her stupidity is apparent, since lack of a response is just as incriminating as giving a response, and maybe more so.

But I think that her silence was actually her inability to respond to me. "How can a brown-skinned person (me) praise the West so openly and follow its exmaples so directly? Who is this creature! She is even worse than those racist whites, since how can she be racist towards her own race!!" Hence her debilitating (I think) inaction.

I finally got a few emails from her. In the first, she said that the Canadiana Room is not "a bookable public space." It is a bookable space, though, with the agenda of its staff. I said as much, and left her with "I will take the matter further."

I sent an email to the library's grievance committee saying I would like to report a complaint, but left it at that. Kutarna seems to have been updated with all my communications with other departments regarding room bookings. And she made me sound like some kind of furtive criminal, where in the first of her emails she wrote, "I know that you have reached out to City and Library staff, including myself, to identify a possible venue for your event." So she will know about my report. But I don't have time to pursue my complaint. The library will continue to decline and wither as it accommodates itself to special interest ethnic groups. And I will avoid going there. I go there very rarely, anyway, and there are a myriad of other ways to do research, and to borrow books, in this modern, technological age.

Kutarna is of course reacting to my "Western Civilization" program which doesn't fit in with this now depressingly prevalent "inclusive" ideology that dominates all cultural discussions in Canada, and the West. And what this really means is restricting and reducing anything related to whites and the West to give priority to non-whites. And Kutarna has grasped on to this multicultural ideology full on.

As with all the fascist, white females of our era, Kutarna is a pathetic creature. She is many pounds over-weight, which affects everything about her, from the lop-sided fit of her dresses to her unattractive haircut. She will blame this on the West and whites, since they are the ones who produced this horrible world which makes people like her suffer (and gain weight) by putting so much importance on appearance!

So, she turns to those ethnics, those brown-skinned people, who are so poetic, so artistic, so vibrant, so beautiful, so real. They become her mentors, allies and examples, being so kind and sensitive, and so ready to give. Of course, this is only her illusion, since their priority is to their own, and try as she might, she can never be part of them.

And I found in my online investigation of her, this gem of a video, where she sings her praises to the ethnics of Canada, and one in particular, in just five minutes.

In the video below, Kutarna is bestowing her reverence to the goddess-poetess Meena Chopra who is a Canada-based (Canadian national) Indian, who writes poetry. Chopra was honored in 2010 in an event in the Mississauga Central Library (not in the Canadiana Room, which would have been too small for that event) titled "A Multilingual Poetry Celebration and Book Launch" as she read from her book amidst Indian dignitaries, as well as Kutarna who gave a speech (excerpted below).


An excerpt from the above video of Kutarna's speech:
I have to say something. Meena taught me something...We were on the phone last Fall talking about doing this workshop, celebration. And I said "Meena, read me a poem, read me a poem" [hand gestures, which look like Indian hand gestures]. "She said: 'But they're in Hindi!' "Read me a poem" [Kutarna's voice increases in pitch - (and desperation?)]. She read me a poem, and this is what I learned. The sound of a language is poetry. The human heart is the same heart in all of us.
For Kutarna, we don't need to know what the exotic, foreign poet is saying. It is sufficient, nay, holy, to simply hear the sounds he makes. We don't need to understand this sacred other since we can feel his specialness, just by the way he utters his words.

And Chopra is the Indian, Third World Goddess that has evoked Kutarna's awe and wonder.

And Chopra knows this. She and her world are systematically undermining and curtailing the white West's civilization. She says so, clearly, in this presentation:
World is transitioning into a global village where English language is taking the front seat but not in a traditional British, American or any other way. [I suspect the grammatical deficiency might be because these are the notes she was reading at the lecture, but submitting that for publication is lax and lazy.
She then continues to talk of the "visual" importance of modern-day communications, neglecting the small fact that she is reciting her poetry in words, and specifically her Hindi words, to make a linguistic point.

But, rather than talk about this usurpation of the English language by non-Anglo worlds, and discussing their variations on the English language, including the addition of many non-English words, she deviates from this by writing:
The biggest influence on new English is of the technological culture and the dynamism of the young who are the creative compelling users of technology.
(I should add here that Chopra's written text is probably the notes she was reading from at the lecture. And for a literary person, one would expect her final version of her transcript that she sends for publication not to include so many errors).

She says that now, since the English language has become this universal world language, and where the Third World has appropriated it to suit its cultural needs, a new generation is using it in a very different, visual way.

I don't think Chopra knows what she's talking about. She doesn't have a well thought-out thesis, and seems to support at times the linguistic idea and at others the visual one.

At another installation of this post, I will write (as I have written previously, but less forcefully) about the intellectual laxness of these non-Western sophisticates.

But they have come to squat, invasion style, in a world which they incessantly criticize, but which is a world replete with sophistications (such as first-class libraries where they can shelve their books so others can easily find them and read them) for which they are willing to immigrate thousands of miles.

Kutarna with Chopra, holding Chopra's book of poems Ignited Lines

I find Chopra uncomfortable with the effusive admiration from Kutarna, who stands grinning obliviously
Chopra is of course a seasoned ethnicist, who has used Candada's infrastructure to its maximum. She is "Friend of the Library" at its most opportunistic.

Below is Chopra reading a poem with those special sounds.


[Video source]

And Chopra also promotes herself as a visual artist. I suppose this is where she empathizes with the world of the "young" where she continues with the presentation I've quoted above:
The idiom and syntax are changing fast.

Manifestation of the subtle thought imaging is taking over directly from the mental sound vibrations in a language where we have started expressing in symbols like smilyes, pictograms and info-graphics etc.
I remember seeing a collection of Chopra's paintings and drawings at the Living Arts Centre here in Mississauga. The center is trying to promote the various arts, and has a full-scale concert hall, a gallery, and various artists' workshops. It is quite a formidable building. I saw Chopra's work hanging somewhere in the gallery, and looking online, I realized it was at the LIVE Restaurant, which is mostly used for after-concert meals and refreshments.

The center, including the restaurant, is partially funded by government grants, and is losing money, and is accepting all kinds of bizarre events to cover its costs. One recent one was a body builders gathering, where strange, inflated creatures were wandering around the hallway. Another is to hold various ethnic festivals, and their program includes a recent presentation by a Chinese circus and an Indian event to celebrate one of their gods. Chopra's program fits that bill.

I couldn't find much online on her paintings at the center, so I went back to LIVE Restaurant, and indeed, there were Chopra's works.

Her show is titled:
"SHE: A Restless Streak" Art Show by Meena Chopra
CELEBRATING THE SPIRIT OF WOMANHOOD
And it is:
At "Live Cuisine" at Living Arts Centre Mississauga from March 9, 2015 until May 25, 2015.
4141 Living Arts Drive, Mississauga, Ontario
Mississauga, Ontario L5B

9thMarch to 25th May
10:30am to 5:30pm everyday
Below is a drawing hanging at the LIVE restaurant, but which I also found online. The photograph of her paintings hanging in the restaurant is what I took, as well as the view of the LIVE restaurant's entrance.

Drawing:
Meena Chopra
Pastel on paper 11'x8"
From Chopra's series: She: A Restless Streak

Poem
Excerpt from Chopra's poem Iconoclast (full poem below)
The real in her
longs to be
revealed through layers
seeking identifications
undraped
in a figureless
formless existence.
Iconoclast
Is she a vase
or a statue on a pedestal ?

She is no icon!

Her feet strong
firm on ground.
The earth supports her.
The real in her
longs to be
revealed through layers
seeking identifications
undraped
in a figureless
formless existence.

In vain,
she searches - an iconoclast,
beyond the turbidity of love.

Will she find one in you ?
Is this the forceful Hindu Goddess, the statue on a pedestal, that Kutarna is looking for? Will she find this figureless, formless, elusive creature?

Chopra may present herself as a modern, progressive oriental with Western ideas. But, as we look deeper into her thoughts, she remains much more Indian than Western. And she is not forthright with Kutarna, whom she will surely abandon when her authentic "identity" trumps pleasantries, leaving Kutarna with nothing but those incomprehensible sounds.

Art and Gastronomie

Chopra's works hanging above wine glasses and folded napkins: the epitome of Western sophistication, but with the Eastern content

Hanging here are oil paintings "Hope" and "Afloat" and selling for $285.


An Indian Woman at the LIVE Restaurant

At one time (about a year ago) the restaurant had changed its buffet style menu from an exclusively European menu and had added one or two Indian dishes. I asked recently about booking the restaurant, and found out that one of the chefs was Indian. When I looked at the buffet, the menu included only one Indian dish, and that was a simple chickpea dip. I asked to meet the chef to inquire about group rates, and was introduced to what looked like a cook. "You can order anything you want. Yes, we can do Indian dishes, butter chicken, anything."

My conclusion was that the attempt to turn this wonderful little place into an Indian/Ethnic restaurant didn't work. How many folk festivals are there going to be, and how many are "inclusive" enough to attract a wider audience than just Indians?
Chopra's work is hardly that of the goddess/artist of Kutarna's eulogy. She has managed to convince the ethnicist Indians who still require the admiration of white Canadians - and they got one at least via Kutarna, and those multi-culti whites who still run the organizations that she is worthy of their attention. And, following the multi-culti/ethnicist recipe, that is not hard to to. I don't doubt that Chopra has artistic ability, but she wouldn't have reached such a level of recognition hadn't she had all these underlying "qualities."

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

At the same time as Chopra's presence in downtown Mississauga, there is a photography exhibit in the Living Arts Centre by David Hook, a photographer based in Mississauga. The show is titled: Southern Ontario Mill Ruins. It looks like Chopra's attempted prediction of the decline of Western civilization is being admitted by whites. But it is more complex than that. When artists begin to realize that their civilization is in decline, and they begin to document what they have, as well as what is being lost, I think it is a good sign. It means that they may be more alert and aware of their surroundings, and will ask difficult questions such as "Why are we losing all this?" and "What is causing that?" And from there, some kind of action can originate. At least, that is what I hope.

The photocopied paper describing this exhibition has a quote by Hook:
"Here in Southern Ontario, we don't have many of the features that are common elements in landscape photography such as tall mountain ranges or ocean scenes. Yet Southern Ontario has a beauty all of its own. We many not have the historic ruins that you find in Europe, but we have our history to be captured here. My goal is to seek out and capture the hidden beauty in Southern Ontario that many may take for granted."
How different that is from Chopra's world (which I quoted above with its grammatical inaccuracies), which is:
...transitioning into a global village where English language is taking the front seat but not in a traditional British, American or any other way.
Chopra's narcissism is palpable next to the open and inquisitive art by Hook, as she is quoted in this photocopied program:
"My art is my search for the moments beyond the ones of self knowledge. It is the rhythmic fantasy; a restless streak which looks for its own fulfillment! A stillness that moves within! An intense search for my origin and ultimate identity."
And Chopra adds more of her inner "conflicts" here, where she is constantly trying to recreate that origin and identity transplanted from a foreign place into a Canada she never is able to call home and where she is never able to be at peace:
Serene surroundings of my birth place Nainital a hill resort in India have been a source of inspiration to me always. Strangely enough the beauty of Canada reminds me of my birth place a lot. Significantly the immenseness of the sky, the glory of the setting sun with its ever-changing colors and the unlimited wide expanse of the earth stills my nature within.
And more ominously, here is an excerpt of Chopra's poem Fire:
Dreams tumble
from unknown heights into a dark pit
devoured by the hunger for light.
A vast ultimate flux of shadows
adrift,
a sea of hidden fire,
rises with a smoky thread
to reach the hearts of early desires"
Such are the aliens that are now populating our land, changing it more aggressively and determinedly than ever, and with all the Kutarna's on their side. And that is why we need more of the David Hooks as our artistic allies.

We have a battle, although I would say it is a war, ahead of us.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Below is a photograph by David Hook, which he titles Turnbull Mill Ruins.

David Hook
Turnbull Mill Ruins, Cambridge, Ontario, 2014
More of Hook's photography here


Hook may be photographing ruins, but it is to capture history. His quest is not a relocation to a far-off, abandoned place, but one closer geographically. It is not the fantasy land that Chopra is recreating, but something more real and tangible. His ruins give us a sense of the past, to bring into the present and to create for the future.

Chopra vacillates between heights and dark pits, to find her "identity" with a "hunger for light." She is for ever in an elusive, intangible ephemera. It is not a narcissist's quest what she is in, but a rootlessness that must be common to so many like her, now populating the urban and even rural landscapes of our lands.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Addendum

I continued to work for several weeks researching conference locations, contacting groups and institutions, and communicating with individuals to prepare a program for the Hildebrand project leaders. I wrote asking them if they were interested in coming to Mississauga to present their book and their ideas.

Here is a couple of the emails I received from their office:
I have not heard an official word from either of the Crosbys yet about this opportunity, however, we have been in the midst of creating a master list for speaking opportunities just like this. Your name specifically was passed along and I hope to be able to confirm this opportunity with you soon. I contacted the leads for this project today updating them of the venues you are currently in contact with. I will communicate with you any updates that are given.

Thank you again for reaching out and being in contact with businesses and communities near you. I look forward to seeing how everything is able to come together. Meanwhile, please do continue to contact me if there are any more updates on your end.
And a little later on:
Thank you for the valiant efforts you have taken to organize a speaking event for the Crosbys. It has certainly been an inspiration for me and our staff. We have been deliberating away about possibilities and I have forwarded all of your plans and possibilities for the event. We are currently in dialogue with another Canadian friend and close friend of the Hildebrand Project who is assisting us in arranging everything. We will be in contact again with you very soon with more detail.
And the last one (in late May), was a short, optimistic one:
I...look forward to ...seeing how everything plays out. Many good things are stirring!
My hard work seems to be paying off.

Mississauga's Civic Centre, with Magnolia Trees in Spring
[Photo By KPA]

Sunday, April 26, 2015

New Header


Perhaps I'm a little too apocalyptic, but I believe our era warrants my strong reaction.

I designed the web header graphics based on these images.

The image on the left is from New York city's Cloisters, where I have been numerous times, and about which I've written here.

In the middle graphic, I've turned the Cloisters image counterclockwise 90°, and did a "heat map" filter through Photoshop. It looks like there is a flame projecting from the Cloisters to the image on the right.

The graphic on the right is the the Absolute Condo Towers, in Mississauga, with the aptly named designers Burka Architects and MAD Architects. I changed the image with Photoshop by making it look like an ashy result of the flames projected from the middle image, and the burned landscape still retaining hot and orange ashes.

We, acting as harbingers of what is to come, and as keepers of art, civilization and our Western culture, can gain our strength and fighting spirit from our institutions, using their still potent power to help us destroy the impostors that have invaded our landscape.

It is no longer a matter of reclamation, but of actual saving, as I further elucidate in my website: Reclaiming Beauty: Saving our Western Civilization.


Behind the Scenes


These are the hard-working men, behind the scenes of Mississauga's revival. And they were all set in place by the city's last mayor, Hazel McCallion.

The question is of course if this is a real revival, which I think it has the makings of, or if it just adding infrastructure to accommodate the unmentionable: increased immigration.

I think it will in some way sort itself out. If the city revives itself in a true sense: higher quality buildings, a "luxury mall" as Square One is being structured, improved landscaping and surroundings with better parks and recreational areas, but above all a with a Canadian perspective, then it will attract for a longer term those that can afford to stay not just for quick real estate flips (buying and selling), but those who would stay to buy good homes for their families.

I am seeing more of the latter, which to my observations looks less Asian (Chinese and Indian) and more white (possibly those attracted form nearby cities, including Toronto).

Let's hope so.


The Jubilee Garden is full of magnolia trees.


The C-Cafe, which is adjacent to the Jubilee Garden, has two industrious chefs, cooking up their appetizing meals on a daily basis. Here is one, barely visible, preparing a dish.


I keep thinking they're brothers. "Cousins?" I asked, but not even that. "Then they must be from the same Welsh town," I joked. They looked Welsh to me.


These are the groundsmen preparing the area for a new addition in the Jubilee Garden: The Hazel Tree, in honor of the former (last) Mayor Hazel McCallion. What an apt recognition. A tough nut to crack! I asked them what they were working on, and it seems they were told only a few days ago the nature of the project. "I got the scoop!" I joked.


And Andrew Wickens, Parks Manager for the City of Mississauga, was in the garden discussing with other officials some details ont he tree, and the surrounding magnolia trees. He was kind enough to stand for a photograph.

He will be responsible for the Hazel Tree.

Hazel McCallion as mayor of Mississauga, sitting in a council session

Hazel McCallion on Mississauga's growth:
Growing up:
Growth is good, says Mississauga’s Hazel McCallion - within limits


Full article at: Toronto Star, Mar 27 2013
Facing pressure under Ontario’s Places to Grow Act to house more of the GTA’s population boom, Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion is pushing back.

At city council Wednesday, McCallion said Mississauga has accepted the province’s mandated growth targets but will not accept decisions by the Ontario Municipal Board that allow developers to build beyond those targets. The spurt of highrise construction is hurting the city’s already overstretched infrastructure, she said.
“They can’t be playing around with our land use like they do,” McCallion said of the province and the OMB, which rules on municipal and planning disputes.

Council unanimously passed a motion asking that Ontario’s Planning Act be amended so developers cannot appeal city council decisions to the OMB, if the city’s official plan is in compliance with Ontario’s growth strategy. The strategy sets municipal density targets that aim to encourage cities to build up rather than out.

McCallion and other councillors said developers, seeing profits in building even higher, are simply going to the OMB whenever they want densities for projects increased. The OMB then uses the growth plan as the rationale for ruling in favour of the developers. The end result is often more lucrative for builders, but puts pressure on already overstretched municipal services.

For Mississauga’s motion to take effect, it would have to be endorsed by Queen’s Park.

Councillors cited a number of high-density projects in Mississauga over the past few years that residents and council, adhering to the city’s official plan, opposed. But developers eventually got their way at the OMB [Ontario Municipal Board], they said.

“I am really concerned about the increased densities … our (infrastructure) is not designed to take the climate change and the increased densities,” McCallion said.
She said the increased densities beyond what , Mar 27 2013has been planned will cost Peel Region “at least a billion dollars” to take care of the extra garbage alone.

About


New Outlook, Same Issues

This blog focused for a few years on Islam and Muslims in the West. I started it as a corollary to Camera Lucida, to exclusively write about these issues. I then stopped writing here, and focused all my work on Reclaiming Beauty. Now, I feel we need to revisit this site, to show the slow, progressive, change in our landscape, and of course our society.Please read on to observe .

All my posts on Islam are still filed by topic.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Chinese in Ontario

I write in the side explanation of this blog (in one paragraph):

This blog focused for a few years on Islam and Muslims in the West. I then stopped writing here, and focused all my work on
Reclaiming Beauty. Now, I feel we need to revisit this site, to show the slow, progressive, change in our landscape, and of course our society.Please read on to observe with me my observations.
Now, immigration, and non-Western immigrants have entered the fabric of our society so much so that they can pick and chose what they want. They clearly benefit from the economic and "intellectual" freedoms and opportunities (e.g. they don't have to fear the "thought police" and other societal regulators from which they fled in their countries of origin, and can use the tremendous wealth these countries have built over the centuries), but now we begin to realize that they have no intention of leaving those countries behind.

Instead, they are forming their own pockets of societies, resembling as much as they can what they left behind, with language and culture as intact as possible, but within the open and welcoming arms of our Western lands.

Below are my first observations I'm posting here, although I have been posting on these issues both at Camera Lucida and Reclaiming Beauty to some extent.

Now I will dedicate this full blog to those issues.

We must know what we are up against.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------



I was sitting drinking my coffee and going through my laptop, as these two men came and sat down with a cup of coffee each. They were there at least 1/2 hour with the same cup of coffee, and talking loudly, with gesticulations, in Cantonese.

The whole cafe was overpowered by their noisy discussion.

At one point, I turned around and watched them, to see if it would have any effect.

The man in my view was a much younger man, and it was his older companion that was doing most of the talking. The younger man would periodically break out into girlish giggles. It was clear that there was some hieracichal protocol being kept, and strongly.

After a long 1/ hour, they eventually left, holding on to their by now empty (surely) cups).

Besides the alienating, disturbing presence, how can they feel comfortalbe sitting there with a $1:00 cup of coffee each (at least the Starbucks would have been $2:00) for a good half hour?

The lovely C-Cafe, envisioned and designed by Western Canadians, is now a place for Toronto's inhabitants to enjoy its atmosphere.

As this continues, I can imagine the C-Cafe shutting down. In fact, they have cut down on their menu, including the wine and beer list (the wine was from the Niagara wineries), and closing earlier to benefit the City Hall's employees, which are now beginning to look more and more like this Chinese couple.

I saw the older man upstairs as I asked for some information (on maps and guides) in the administration office.


He was standing by the Chinese woman's ledge. By the time I came closer to take a photograph, he had left. I tried to find out what this woman was doing, and I asked, carefully ("Can I not talk with her, over there? I am in a hurry!"), and found out that she was responsible for building permits for commercial businesses. It looks like another Chinese restaurant, or some kind of convenience store, where English communication will be difficult, and so most likely to serve Chinese clients.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I went back down, to walk through the City Hall, and to make it back out into the square, and was startled by these loud Chinese women, talking loudly and aggressively to each other.

I stopped, and just looked at them as they spoke, and then took out my camera, and took a photograph. I waited as they talked. One of them realized I was watching, and they silenced themselves. I went on my way.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Lara Logan: Bomb Raider

Angelina Jolie in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

I was going to leave the Lara Logan story alone. After all, whatever happened to her, and not all writers are unanimous that she was actually raped, is still an assault and has left her incapacitated for now, and hospitalized. I'm pretty sure, though, that she will bounce back to resume her Lara Logan: Bomb Raider adventure out in the Orient (metaphorically, at least).

I became suspicious of her (actually, I would became suspicious of any female "war" correspondent, blond and pretty, who goes in the midst of war-mongering, sexually frustrated Muslim men) when I started hearing about her personal behavior right out there in the field. Here's what Wikipedia says about her:
Her husband [Joe Burkett] is a U.S. Federal Government defense contractor from Texas, whom she met in Iraq. They had a son in January 2009. Her previous husband, Jason Siemon, was a professional basketball player in the United Kingdom...Joe Burkett's former wife Kimberly Burkett, accused Lara Logan of breaking up their marriage. She was also said to have been courting Michael Ware, another reporter, at the same time as she became involved with Joe Burkett which was said to have resulted in a brawl between the two men.
While the suddenly prudish Wikipedia uses "courting" to describe whatever was going on between Ware and Logan, The New York Post throws out the word "fling" to describes more succinctly what they see. What she actually had was a fling within a fling. Michael Ware is subsequently (consequently?) divorced, as are both Logan and Burkett from their respective spouses in order to get married to each other. This sounds steamy and romantic, but is as sordid as it gets. I wonder how long this "fling" at (re)marriage will last?

And why wasn't Logan at home taking care of her vulnerable toddler, and instead running off to duck bombs? These points are important to consider. We have transferred tremendous responsibility to these people in times of war. We are depending on them to serve us well during difficult, chaotic times. If they cannot do that, then let them set up their own backdrops for dangerous romances. Casablanca might work, but even those protagonists eventually preferred the good guys to the bad ones.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Fake Conservatives

Ever since I deduced that libertarians are very much libertarians at heart (and not the conservatives some claim to be, albeit sporadically), I realized that their libertarian "audience" is so limited that they have to cleverly sell their ideas (and writings) to conservative journals, or subtly downplay their libertarian politics, in order to attract conservative readers. I'm not sure why they do this, except that it might even be a prestige thing (conservatives are better than liberals, is my biased view). And of course, it is one way to get their works read by a wider audience, which also translates in them getting their, possibly substantial, paychecks. Obscure (true to their ideals) libertarian journals would leave them wanting materially. So much for political loyalty. But to be fair, perhaps they are hoping to carefully persuade ambivalent conservatives to join their side, and they might even be successful in that regard, if that is indeed one of their endeavors.

Below are various posts I've written on a libertarians passing off as conservatives:

- Peter Brimelow of Vdare fame:
Vdare's Woes
- Ilana Mercer and her articles on conservative sites:
What exactly  is Ilana Mercer?
- Various Canadian "conservatives" who slowly admit that they're libertarians
Where have all the conservatives gone?

There is an interesting discussion at View from the Right after my post "Where have all the conservatives gone", including a response by Canadian writer Kevin Michael Grace. Grace also sent me an email, and I responded. That was the extent of Grace's denials of his libertarian stance, which he never really disproved in his communications with me.

Here is the relevant email interaction:

Dear Ms. Asrat:

I don't know where you got the idea I am a libertarian, paleo or otherwise. See this. I may be a pessimist, but I am not a nihilist; the biggest influence on my political and social thinking is Hilaire Belloc. As for immigration to my country (Canada), my position is: end it. I see no need for Canada to take in more than, say, 5,000 immigrants a year for the foreseeable future. As for Muslim immigration, my position is: none, ever.

Cordially,

Kevin Michael Grace
Here is my challenge to his response that he is not a libertarian, to which he never responded:
I do apologize if I singled you out incorrectly, or unfairly, but this is how I see what's happening. After a prolonged absence, your first article - your comeback article, if I may say so - was on the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Human Rights Commissions. I have written about your article in this post. Surprisingly, I found that your concern over the HRCs and the CHRA was not to disclose their positions on non-discrimination, but to talk about their attempts at censorship - or as you say "self-censorship."

[...]

So, rather than talk about these societal changes, and the historical reasons for the formation of the HRCs and the CHRA, and what fuels them these days which includes high immigration levels, it seems that you preferred to talk about self-censorship as the overriding factor. As I said before, this self-censorship came out of a specific historical and social context. It seems your concern relates to the narrow focus of individual freedoms (of speech, of expression etc.) that libertarians hold dear, rather than to the broader social issues that conservatives try to address, which certainly also includes free speech and expression as part of the whole picture.
The full article, to which Grace responded with his email is: Kevin Michael Grace's Inadequate Take On Section 13 of The Human Rights Commissions.

One of the reasons I took an interest in these writers is because they have a connection to Canada, so I thought they would give me some wise insight into this country. I was pretty much wrong on that, and I'm not even sure how much good they're doing America. (Grace occasionally has his articles published at Vdare, as do Shaidle and Mercer. Mercer is a regular columnist at World Net Daily. Grace has also published in American journals such as Chronicles and The American Spectator).

I have a couple of "letters to the editor" at Vdare (here and here), and I communicated with Mercer for a while, until her underhanded rude reply to one of my emails which centered around my disagreements on her libertarian politics.

Here is a recent post at VFR discussing Australian blogger Mark Richard's article on the American Right, where Lawrence Auster writes: "...many conservatives are in fact classical liberals or libertarians ." This has been my view for a while now.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Michelle Ma Belle - Revisited

Michelle Obama at the State Dinner for Chinese President Hu Jintao

[Cross-posted at Camera Lucida]

I had vowed not to do anymore fashion pieces on Michelle Obama. But this takes the cake. The dress she wore to the State Dinner for China's President Hu Jintao looks like some kind of modern tied-dye African costume, clumsily cut as though somewhat was "cut happy" with the scissors, and with parts which look like they were assembled together with safety pins. There is that odd asymmetrical, off-the-shoulder look that Obama seems to like so much. And she's holding some kind of miniature shawl (scroll down to the second image) which has no relation, either in design or in proportion, to the rest of the dress. Bloggers (and Drudge) are calling this her tribute to "China Red", but I don't see that, especially with all the black "tie-dye" criss-crossing pattern.

It always surprises me when Obama comes out with her dresses. I can find no way to relate to them, and their strangeness strikes me each time. Perhaps this really is her, unique, sense of dress. But, I will go further, as I have before, that she has nowhere to pull from that will give her good judgment on her choices. She might be the most visual (yet thoroughly ignored) manifestation of the Obama government. A government which bows down, literally, to foreign leaders, channeling something that is not at all an American tradition. In fact, it is so strangely alien, that it could be why people (journalists, bloggers) are stunned into silence by this behavior.

Just like Michelle's odd, culturally unrecognizable, dresses.

The dress was designed by Alexander McQueen's replacement, and long-time design partner, Sarah Burton. McQueen, a flamboyant homosexual, committed suicide in 2010. Burton designs these amorphous gowns with unrecognizable patterns It looks like she takes some rough shape and simply replicates it through mirroring and repeats

Burton was recently featured in January 2011's Vogue (US). The image below is a spread in the magazine. At first glance, the gowns looks impressive, dramatic even. But, fashion magazine buyers (like me, at least) look at details from shoes to buttons. Add to that my experience with textile design, and all I could say was 'This is fluff."


Look at this dress (it easier to work with) from the Paris Fashion Week (via the Los Angeles Times):


There is no discernible pattern, other than dramatic strokes (which look like flames, or a giant flower, but we're still not clear what it is). And I've added a red line in the middle where the image has clearly been mirrored on to the other side.

Such design techniques are rudimentary and basic. This is one of the first things I did when I started my studies. Just quickly draw rough brush strokes, and mirror-copy them with the "mirror" angled at ninety, forty-five, etc. degrees.

Burton also seems to channel some kind of ethnic or multicultural sources. Here is a fashion blog Styling Delux who has posted some of Burton's designs. Two of them look like kimono-type gowns, and there is the dress Michelle wore which looks like an elaborate African-style gown. But, even African fashion is more sophisticated than that.

Burns is British. I seem to want to associate her with that British faux-artiste Damien Hirst, and his famous Butterfly Series, which he did with real live (dead) butterflies, which he also elaborated using mirror-imaging techniques. Burns also has a butterfly dress, replete with 3-D butterflies, which I hope are not real.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

More Sino-Muscle Flexing


Nobody is writing about this, so my modest blog may as well tackle the taboo topics.

I've recently been repeatedly struck by aggressive Chinese behavior - whether it is subtly carried out like the narrowing in on white males by Chinese women (immigrant or ethnic), by harsh Chinese mothering techniques by Chinese living in the West (I'm not interested in what Chinese do behind their own borders), and of course the Chinese going where they've never been before, siphoning off water from poor countries, for example, to alleviate their own disastrous policies. I won't even grace Obama's latest bow to Hu Jintao, in Washington, no less.

One of the effects of this wonderful cultural intrusion is that the pagan and heathen superstitions from (Chinese) factory manufactured strips in "fortune" cookies are now spoken to us in their fuller versions by Chinese sages.

The Chinese don't like death, they don't like funeral parlors, and certainly not hospices. Residents of a Vancouver building are loudly protesting plans to build a hospice near their "million dollar" high rise apartments. They're appealing to (their) cultural taboos to abort this plan.

Here are some quotes from The Province (a British Columbia publication):

- "We cannot have dying people in our backyard," said rally organizer Janet Fan, Wednesday "It’s a cultural taboo to us and we cannot be close to so many dying people. It’s like you open your door and step into a graveyard."

- One resident says: "We believe that people dying outside will bring us bad luck," she added. "I’m very angry and upset. If I had known it was going to be a hospice, I wouldn’t buy it for half the price."

- Another, clutching her toddler son adds: "It’s very disturbing,”"she said. "My kids and I are going to feel so frightened and angry just to think there are dying people so close to us."

- And the this, in a letter addressed to the University Neighborhood Association:

"'Death is the Yin and 'Live' is the Yang,” it read. "If the Yin and Yang are near to each other, 'Death' will bring bad luck, meaning sickness and even death . . . The ghosts of the dead will invade and harass the living."

- The letter said Asians believe that living next to "death" would "lead to failure of business, the loss of money, the break of marriage and family, and the healthy growing up of children will be affected."

The paper compares this "opposition" to the building with other protesters. Namely, a group of University of British Columbia students who didn't want to tone down their rowdy drunken parties.

Joe Stott, director of Campus and Community Planning, says: "[T]here’s no evidence that a hospice reduces property values.”

This could be a funny Saturday Night Live skit. But it's not that humorous. In the West, dignity is given even at death. Hospices are a dignified way for families to come to terms with a dying relative, and to have him spend the last days of his life in as much comfort (and dignity) as possible. I keep using the work "dignity" but it is not for lack of other words. I've written about the usurpation of dignity that Chinese seem to practice. Of course critics will say that I don't have enough evidence, but we do get Chinese women writing quite explicitly about their lives, most recently Amy Chua's memoir, and in the various semi-autobiographical books that Amy Tan has written, showing u s the ways that Chinese mothers humiliate their children (daughters, mostly, it seems).

So, I am not surprised that base desires and superstitious beliefs induce these Chinese (notice how all those interviewed in the Vancouver paper, or at least providing their opinion, are women) Vancouver residents to act out inhumanely (this is what I wrote about Chua's treatment of her daughters) towards the dying.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Mercer is at it again

Here are the definitive first two paragraphs of Ilana Mercer's post on Jared Lee Loughner:

… Jared Lee Loughner was both fixated on his representative’s imagined failings, and preoccupied with language and its misuse. These elements combined and then combusted in his head.

As a writer who really loves the English language, I am intrigued by the intrusive, persistent thoughts about grammar and illiteracy to have plagued Loughner.
This is what she writes about a mass-murderer, compare him with her love of (which translates later on in the long-winded article, her expertise on) words. Besides the weird analogy, this is a typically smug Mercer statement.

I've already discussed Mercer's uninteresting writing style (see references below). So, perhaps she is authentic when comparing her style with Loughner's ramblings. After all, one admires what one aspires to.

Here's another, where she ties in her libertarian, anti-government ideology with the inner-genius of Loughner:
Perhaps, then, it was not speech per se that inflamed Loughner's febrile passions, but, rather, Orwellian speech; lies that belie reality.
And finally:
"Crazies" know right from wrong.
Brilliant, even by Mercer's standards.

----------------------------------------------
Here are more blog posts on Mercer:
- Round-up of the Blogs and Misconceptions About Islam
- Idiot Libertarians - No Scare Quotes This Time
- "Idiot" Libertarians
- Where Have All the Conservatives Gone?
- Mercer as the Nihilistic Usual (Ultimate) Suspect

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Sino-Draconian Mission


This unflattering portrayal of author Amy Chua
is posted in the the British leftist newspaper the Guardian

The paper labels the image with a quote from Chua's book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother:

"The solution to substandard performance is always to excoriate, punish and shame the child"

Incriminating imagery of a Western-culture denouncing non-white in a leftist newspaper? Chua is too much even for the Guardian.


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[Cross-posted at Camera Lucida]

I've noticed (and noted) a strange sinophilism going around these days. It doesn't matter if it is a left-wing or a right-wing commentator, the consensus seems to be that the Chinese (culture, at least) has got it right. One of these manifestations is the white male/Chinese female coupling I see all around me, which I've discussed here. In another post I discuss how Janice Stein, a University of Toronto academic who often appears on news shows as a political expert, excuses China's draconian measures towards its own work force by saying "that's the only way things can get done." Such behavior apparently translates down to family interactions, where Amy Chau, a Yale University law professor discloses her harsh intimidation methods to get her daughters to achieve "perfection" in her memoir Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.

I skimmed through a book review of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother in the January 2011 issue of Elle Magazine, but lost interest (or more like rolled my eyes), and stopped reading after the introductory paragraph:
A hyperachieving law prof and author from a cosmopolitan Chinese clan lays out a fearsome child-rearing philosophy.
Another Amy Tan type of book glorifying abusive Chinese mothers, I though.

Steve Sailer, from the anti-immigration website Vdare, which purports to eschew Western values, has posted a blog praising Amy Chau, and her draconian mothering and child-rearing techniques.

Sailer quotes from the New York Times review of Chua's memoir Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother:
"In retrospect, these coaching suggestions seem a bit extreme," [Chua] writes in the book after describing how she once threatened to burn her daughter’s stuffed animals if she did not play a piano composition perfectly. "On the other hand, they were highly effective."

In interviews, she comes off as unresolved. "I think I pulled back at the right time," she said. "I do not think there was anything abusive in my house." Yet, she added, "I stand by a lot of my critiques of Western parenting. I think there’s a lot of questions about how you instill true self-esteem."
Sailer adds a one-line comment:
One thing you can say for Ms. Chua is that she’s got guts.
Guts to bully and intimidate her children into becoming classical pianists?

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is getting complementary reviews in many other venues.

- The Wall Street Journal ran an excerpt from Chua's book in early January. And allowed her to rebut the many negative comments she got from readers. Rather than write their own review, the editorial group at WSJ simply left the floor open to Chua. This is not a book review, but an underhanded way of giving a book a "pass".

- The reviewer from Macleans magazine from Canada, a spineless Joan Latmer writes, "I can’t think of a better rehab warden than Chua. The smart money’s on Tiger Mother."

- The Globe and Mail's Margaret Wente goes all out and praises non-white, non-Western parenting techniques which border on child abuse. Here's what she says about Andre Agassi's Iranian father's training techniques:
Mike Agassi, a first-generation immigrant from Iran, taped Ping-Pong paddles to his son’s hands when he was just a toddler. At 6, Andre was practicing four or five hours a day.
Agassi later confessed that he’s always hated tennis "with a dark and secret passion."

Wente writes about Chua:
Instead of false praise, [Chua] believes in high standards and criticism. She once rejected a hastily scrawled birthday card that one of her daughters had made for her. "This is garbage," she said. "You can do better."
The snarky Wente continues:
Cruel? Maybe. But her older daughter, Sophia, has already played at Carnegie Hall. Your children probably haven’t.
Yes, anything to glorify the glorious non-West, and demonize the West, for these leftist Globe and Mail writers.

Chua relaxed her draconian methods and let her younger daughter give up piano for tennis. But, it's not necessarily generosity (or motherly love) that made her cede, but simply that she couldn't squeeze enough talent out of her unobliging daughter. Instead, she seems to have focused her classical-pianist-for-a-daughter needs on the eldest daughter.

But so far, Chua's "prodigy" has only played once at Carnegie Hall, and she's already eighteen. She's placed high in a couple of parochial competitions: second in a piano competition in the Greater Bridgeport Symphony competition for young musicians in 2010, and first at the Music Teachers National Association piano competition in 2006. She is no child prodigy, and might turn out to be a competent pianist, and end up in her mother's alma mater as the next best thing to a performer - a music teacher.

Part of the joy of perfecting something is because one loves it, or is encouraged to love it. Grueling practice sessions, time away from friends and play, and overcoming jittery nerves before performances are then usually worth the effort. I would wager that artists are willing to spend years of financial and social insecurity because they love their craft, and are willing to sacrifice other comforts to express that love. They could not function with a stick waving above their head.

When I was started to study ballet at a young age, I was so scared of my teacher (a Bulgarian communist who would tap my knee with a stick, "your k-nee, Kidist, your k-nee,") that I failed miserably and was further humiliated at being removed from a school pageant. Yet later on, while a slightly older girl in the British school system, my teachers commended my grace (I also won a third-place prize at a local, regional competition). Later still, I joined many other dance groups, including a Mexican folk dance group often as a partner to the dance instructor/leader, an American modern dance ensemble where audience members would search for me to give me compliments, and even a belly dance group (I quit that one finding little art in it). I even organized and choreographed small groups for dance performances in college.

I never became a dancer, since I didn't have enough talent, and who knows what other social reasons excluded me from this art (including an emphasis on academics rather than the arts in my family), but I was never that incompetent young girl doing plies at the mercy of a teacher's stick. And many generous teachers instilled in me a love of dance which effaced the memory of the stick, and allowed me to continue to be thrilled by it all my life. I decided to enter an art-related field, and sometimes use music and dance (pattern) analogies to "compose" my work. Relying on that stick would have killed all of that.

Chua's unobliging daughter chose tennis for her second chance at doing something well. It is interesting that the similarity between her choice of music and sport is not that the fields are related, but that they have a psychological connection. Competition seems to be the overriding factor for her in both: to "play" and and to win. Perhaps it was in her nature to be athletically competitive, and piano playing couldn't give her that. But, perhaps her mother's draconian (evil) methods that art is associated with pain, and even hate, simply clinched her decision.

Friday, January 14, 2011

"Youth, Change the World!"

Liberal/Fascist/Elitist Race-baiter Spike Lee

[Cross-posted at Camera Lucida]

I posted recently on Spike Lee's and his wife's foray into children's books with their newly released Giant Steps to Change the World. "Youth" figure high in liberal and fascists ideology, and Lee is no exception. But Lee, like all black elites, is rife with hypocrisy. Liberal elites, like Lee, don't really want for themselves what they pitch to the masses. Their talk about equality is a blatant lie.

Here is what I wrote about liberal elites at Our Changing Landscape:
[Jim] Kalb writes:
[Facism]'s a nice clear system, and it's got some logic behind it, but it doesn't work very well. It was tried and it lost. For that reason, the liberal solution won out.

That solution is a bit more complicated. It starts by noting that all our purposes are equally purposes, and infers that everybody's purposes equally confer value. Each of us is equally able to make things good or bad just by thinking of them as good or bad. That makes each of us in a sense divine. Our will creates moral reality. Instead of the wonder-working leader of fascism you get the divine me of liberalism. It's every man his own Jesus.
So how do liberal leaders get all these equally stationed demi-gods to follow them? It is still sheer will, I would think, of maintaining a semblance of liberal equality, but working with (and secretly ruling with) brute fascistic superiority, through a lot of lying and deceiving.
My post on Lee's children's books discusses his very white-looking "black" wife, yet all of his career and politics is about the evils done to blacks by whites. The book Giant Steps to Change the World is reviewed by its (liberal) publisher as "an inspirational picture book about activism and taking the big steps to set things right." Setting things right really means getting back at whites who've oppressed blacks for so long. And Lee starts the indoctrination of his brigade at pre-school age.

Lee doesn't seem to have done too badly under white oppression, racking in millions from his white oppressors for books (and films) like this, and marrying what really is his (and blacks') epitome of success - a white woman (or the less painfully hypocritical substitute, a white-looking black woman).

From my previous post on Spike Lee:
[J]ust like Hitler's youth brigade, "youth" is a recurring and important category that liberals love to use, as though they are benign, protective adults. Instead, what they are doing is systematically, through schools and various media including children's books, building their army of fascist children, who are trained to be foaming at the mouth, and to destroy then rebuild society according to the gospel of their liberal/fascist parents.