Week In Review
The Week In Review rounds up interesting, inspiring or thought-provoking things I've read this week.
"How are you to imagine anything if the images are always provided for you? To defend ourselves...we must learn to read. To stimulate our own imagination, to cultivate our own consciousness, our own belief system. We all need these skills to defend, to preserve, our own minds." -- Adrien Brody
Cuba, in Clothes | Chavie Lieber, Racked
It's long, but the entire piece is worth a read.
"Coupled with recent collections from Valentino and Stella McCartney that appropriated Cuban design and didn't involve anyone from the country in the design process and a televised visit from the Kardashians which showed little but cigars, rum, and colorful convertibles, it's clear there's risk of 'exoticizing Cuban people and culture,' as Racked wrote last year.
Perhaps the most questionable of these examples is Chanel's resort fashion show hosted in Havana this past May. Many locals felt Chanel used Havana without actually involving it. The show was closed off to the public, even though it was held on a public street. Out of the 47 models who walked the show, Chanel only hired two local models. Hardly anyone from Cuba's fashion community was invited.
'While Chanel has always been an icon and an inspiration for me,' says Freixas, 'it seemed like they were interested in Havana on a social level, by only looking at people who could possibly be clients, like famous musicians. But there are more important things in the world than money. Chanel's show could have been an opportunity to involve the Cuban fashion community and be a session to meet and exchange ideas.'
'I didn't care about not getting a seat,' adds Gil of the Fábrica. 'I cared that Chanel completely ignored Cuba's fashion community.'"
No One Tells Megyn Kelly What to Wear | Vanessa Friedman, The New York Times
"By acknowledging the role clothes play in her own life and psyche, she is contravening one of the last taboos: If women want to be taken seriously, they are not supposed to take fashion seriously. A patently idiotic idea. (If you want to be taken seriously, you had better think seriously about every message you are sending, including the ones in your outfits.)"
The Social Psychology Behind Fashion | Judith Donath on Quora via The Huffington Post
"My hypothesis is that fashion is a signal of one’s skill with information — of one’s access to it and one’s ability to distinguish good information from bad. To be at the forefront of new fashions you have to both be privy to knowing what is new and upcoming and also be able to distinguish which is going to be the next cool new thing from something that is merely odd and different. The cost in fashion is the risk of making a mistake, of adopting the wrong thing.
...fashion is also closely related to innovation adoption. We can think of them as orthogonal phenomena: a pure fashion has no practical utility and is adopted solely for signaling social position while the ideal innovation is all utility, adopted for its usefulness. Understanding their interplay helps us understand why new ideas do and do not spread."
The Environment & World Affairs
Edward Burtynsky’s quest to photograph a changing planet | Raffi Khatchadourian, The New Yorker
"Our helicopter was heading over the Niger Delta, across a vast and unstable sky, with gray clouds surging above. I was sitting behind the pilot, and behind me, gazing out a starboard window, was Edward Burtynsky, a Canadian photographer known for his sweeping images of industrial projects and their effects on the environment. For three decades, he has been documenting colossal mines, quarries, dams, roadways, factories, and trash piles—telling a story, frame by frame, of a planet reshaped by human ambition.
...Some photos had the texture of neo-Expressionist paintings: darkly gorgeous portraits of devastation. 'It’s like a lost civilization,' Burtynsky said. 'It’s otherworldly.'"
What Is the Left Without Identity Politics? | Walter Benn Michaels, Charles W. Mills, Linda Hirshman and Carla Murphy, The Nation
From Walter Benn Michaels:
"Because the core of a left politics is its critique of and resistance to capitalism—its commitment to decommodifying education, health care, and housing, and creating a more economically equal society. Neither hostility to discrimination nor the accompanying enthusiasm for diversity makes the slightest contribution to accomplishing any of those goals. Just the opposite, in fact. They function instead to provide inequality with a meritocratic justification: If everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed, there’s no injustice when some people fail...identity politics is not an alternative to class politics but a form of it: It’s the politics of an upper class that has no problem with seeing people being left behind as long as they haven’t been left behind because of their race or sex."
The Dark Side of Christmas: The Impact on Sweatshops | Amoge Ukaegbu, New Internationalist via Truthout
"Christmas consumerism undoubtedly fuels sweatshop labour, but to place blame on consumers is misguided, landing us in the old trap of blaming individuals for a problem ultimately systemic. For many consumers facing stagnating wages and increasing product prices, the mainstream goods are the most, if not only, affordable options. Products like the Fairphone are expensive, and no such alternatives exist for the common laptop or desktop.
Arguments that sweatshops increase gender empowerment for women who work in factories, or increase the wealth of individuals previously impoverished, fail to accept one harsh reality: in some places sweatshop employment is akin to slavery. Benefiting while wronging is exploitation at its core."
Aleppo: Elegy for a doomed city whose history spans centuries | Hassan Hassan, The Guardian
"Over the past five years, many people have come to know Aleppo for its gruesome violence. But the city is deeply rooted in history. Shakespeare mentions the city in Macbeth and Othello in the context of a far-off exotic place, where Othello killed a Turk in vengeance for a slain Venetian and where a sailor in Macbeth , according to one of the three Witches, vowed to sink his ship, the Tiger. It is one of the most revered cities in the region, and its rich history invokes profound stories about victory and defeat, success and suffering. Traders from Aleppo carried their city’s name far and beyond, to the extent that it is often said many in Africa recognise the name Aleppo more than Syria. Unlike other Syrian cities, Aleppo is the only one that has its own qudud, a traditional musical form that originates from the time when Muslims ruled Spain."
A Buddhist cop’s approach to justice | Cheri Maples, Lion's Roar
"This crisis in policing has to do with unnecessary use of force, racial profiling, militarization of police departments, lack of trust between communities and police departments, lack of strategies to address trauma and emotional health of police officers, unconscious and unspoken organizational agreements in police culture, and a lack of informal safety nets for people across the country...Many of the tragedies now being uncovered in policing are the result of the fact that as police officers we simply cannot see what is actually in front of us — a suffering human being in need of help.
Without the tools of mindful awareness, cynicism and an armored heart are almost an unavoidable effect of a police officer’s job. It’s often hard for us to recognize, admit, or remember that our hearts may have stopped quivering in response to the suffering of others."
What have you read this week?
Feature image: "Oil Bunkering # 2, Niger Delta, Nigeria 2016" by Edward Burtynsky