Sunday, April 27, 2003

Something I have been thinking about these last few days has been the concept of privacy........I come from a country where privacy means not being able to see your neighbours house when you are standing naked on the roof of your own house. That was Australia.....this is Sweden where the concept of privacy is defined by how thick the walls are between your own and the four other flats which surround yours in the block you and your family live in with 50 other families........From this personal zone extends outwards hundreds of defining moments of what privacy actually is in Sweden.....when you go to an office here for any sort of contact with authority/expertise/bureaucracy (and these points of contact are everywhere) people do not ask you your name, only you number.....from this EVERYTHING can be learnt about you. In Australia there is an illusion that because we do not have identity cards or numbers we are somehow annonomous...this is bullshit.....people at offices in Australia ask your name , address etc etc. because they want you to believe some frontier myth that maintains consistency in the social fabric of "Orstralia".......In Sweden it is generally acknowledged that it is a collective state of affairs that maintains the fabric of society and no one individual should rise above another (this is another myth in a country that has a completely idle monarchy and some of the richest business executives in Europe). In the case of Australia, in the words of my sister who works for them; "we are the government love, we can find out everything about you..".
Both these privacy myths are useful control mechanisms, each approaching the same selfish little citizen from opposite directions, and each like all myths have elements of truth at their bases. However at the centre of both is the idea that we are all in this together, even if the man in the rags on the train platform hassling you for small change is really annoying you....he is also conforming to the same principles you are (desire for money being a central one). The design and format of your living space and that of the objects you fill it with are also compliant with these principles, they go beyond any formations we have of privacy as they have been produced, marketed and sold to us by people we have and never will meet but we are living with their ideas in concrete form.....
Here endeth the and sisters let us now say a prayer for whoever it is that the powers of democracy decide to liberate next ("we got 9500 kilos of democracy in this B52 boy") and that food is getting to the children of Iraq

Saturday, April 26, 2003

One more very important website I forgot: MINE;
This is an advertisement, half in swedish and half in english for one of the bands I make sound is a good one....I am experimenting with this link thing as I have not yet managed to get it to work yet....we shall see.

Total Groove is a musical collective with members from Morocco, Senegal, Sweden, Australia, and Haiti. A powerful rhythm with Djembe, Didgeridoo, Doumbek, Congas, DJ beats and the voices and chants of West Africa. Based in the North East of Sweden, they are interested in spreading the groove of world electronic organic beats.

Den här är gruppen, med kontakter och detaljer:

Har är Bonus M Diallo’s webbsida, han är en jätteviktig del av Total Groove:
Här är hemsidan för Funkservice Musikkollektiv, vilket Total Groove är en del av. Det finns en Mp3 där (”Sydney City Rain”) som vi har gjort i studion (utan Bonus och Simon – men det ger en ide om hur vi låter):

Vi har våran egen ljudanläggning. Medlemmarna bor i Skellefteå, Umeå och Sundsvall. Om ni delar ett intresse i gruppen kan du kontakta Adil Fardi genom totalgroove-webbsidan.

Saturday, April 12, 2003

Museum as Trope in 'Truth and Bright Water' by Thomas King

Keeping it Reel(ing)...What's it been......a week or two? The words have been flying thick and fast passed my head this week. The Project is underway. Mikhail Michajlovich Bakhtin rocks my world at the moment. To think that the world has this: "unfinshed becoming" it is Bakhtin but it could be the Venerable Milerepa. Perhaps there is hope for the world after all.....not of course if you judge by the images articulated from the idiot eye: TV. (Drug of a nation, breeding ignorance and feeding radiation). Perhaps it's time for an insert: An essay submitted recently to my sponsor, Umeå University on the magical articulation which is Truth and Bright Water by Thomas King:

“More to a story than just words.”
Thomas King

Instead of approaching this in a purely analytical sense and providing definitions and evidence I will attempt to keep with the spirit of the work and weave a series of connections based around the trope . By this I mean that there are identifiable themes that are consistent with my reading of the as trope. Among them, the didactic nature of the majority of the narrative, the “oral tradition” which is reflected in the dominance of conversational dialogue, attention to family and communal relations, and intertextuality from Indian History, all provide resistance to what could be termed ‘the traditional museum discourse’. Within the novel binary relations are pivotal to narrative. Characters, locations and historical events are juxtaposed in contrasting pairs (e.g. Tecumseh and Lum, Truth and Bright Water, Elvin and Franklin), and this applies to the trope.

In Truth and Bright Water the museum is figurative in a number of ways when we consider its primary functions in terms of: collecting preserving categorising re/presenting The largest (in terms of physical size) manifestation matching these criteria is the reservation itself. This is especially true when considered in relation to the “Indian Days” festival, which is described and planned throughout the novel. Those within and outside the ‘living museum’ manipulate the boundaries implicit in being ‘Indian’, where they apply and how they are manifest. “Everybody’s going crazy over traditional Indian stuff. I figure I can sell these for fifty bucks as fast as I can make them.” (King, P32), claims Elvin, who later states “Boy these days Indians are everywhere.” (King, P231). ‘Indian’ is a brand name, artefacts become commodities and if they are purchased in combination with a tourist experience they become even more ‘authentic’. However, despite a consistent appearance as a money orientated provider of Indian kitsch, he also realises boundaries saying, “What the hell do they expect?”…“It ain’t Disneyland.” (King, P234). The line between the appearance and the content is the boundary framing the . This is articulated in the objectification of the camera gaze; “All of the photographs were panoramas, landscapes, the sort of thing that you would expect tourists to take. But the neat thing was that everything in the distance, the rivers, the mountains, the clouds, the prairies, was slightly blurry and out of focus, while everything in the foreground, the steering wheel, the windshield wipers, the hood, was crisp and sharp.” (King, P155).

In contrast to the reservation the smallest manifestation matching the above criteria is the quilt of Tecumseh’s mother. “The geometric forms slowly softened and turned into freehand patterns that looked a lot like trees and mountains and people and animals, and before long my father said you could see Truth in one corner of the quilt and Bright Water in the other with the Shield flowing through the fabrics in tiny diamonds and fancy stitching.” (King, P61). Along with the collected artefacts (chicken feet and hair among them) the quilt forms a creative history/mythology (begun just after when Tecumseh was born) in the form of a museum of symbols. It is dangerous with razor blades, needles, and fish hooks attached but “it looked as if you’d be safe enough as long as you were under the quilt and were not moving around on the outside, trying to get in.” (King, P62). This is free of the camera gaze, but it is, like the reservation it depicts, a delineated construct, with an inside and an outside. This avoids the objectification of the museum culture as the antithesis of social solidarity where human beings are transformed into artifacts or actors in the living museum, the subjects of the tourist camera gaze. This is a family or communal artifact, with characters speculating on the meaning of symbols and features changing to mirror the changing narrative.

The confluence of the trope, as juxtaposed in the two above examples is crossed over by Monroe Swimmer. He first hints at subversion with a rhetorical question “You know what they keep in museums?” and the answer given, “Old stuff from the past?” is just “what they want you to think.” (King, P133). He begins with the restoration of the ‘living museum’, the reservation, by the rubbing out of the church and the return of buffalo. He further challenges the museum discourse by restoring bones of Indian children to “the centre of the universe” (King, p251) from “the drawers and boxes and stuck away on dusty shelves.” (King, p250). The climax of the text is Monroe Swimmer’s potlatch (1.) in an oppositional binary to the plunder of the traditional museum, as described through the stories of Monroe Swimmer. "The theory of the gift is a theory of social solidarity. Through gift giving social bonds are created, individuals are joined, sharing with each other the back and forth of the social power that is associated with the gifts exchanged. It places the individual into a structure of total services” (2.) This placing of individuals into structure is consistent with the (restored or communal) trope as illustrated by the quilt, the return of the Indian children’s bones, and the “Indian village slowly coming up through the layers of paint. Clear as day.” (King, p129) in what could be called Monroe’s ‘Smithsonian Parable’.

1.Potlatch: (Chinook jargon, from Nootka, patshatl: giving], a ceremonial feast of the Indians of the Northwest coast marked by the host's lavish distribution of gifts requiring reciprocation Source: Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary)

2. David L. R. Kosalka Georges Bataille and the Notion of Gift 12/99 at

Thomas King Truth and Bright Water (New York: Grove Press, 1999)