Tuesday, 31 March 2015

the siege (part 7)

Done and done.

And now, amusing as this little gig has been (what with the posting every time the twitchiness grew too much; and the security guard who keeps poking his head in the door and shaking his head in wonder that I'm still here) I'm off.

Going to go beat a hasty retreat to the car for snooze-time.

Not that the car is particularly comfortable and/or warm; but it beats having the lab alarm system go off every hour.

(Seriously, who came up with that? Unless it's specifically intended to stop students napping in here? Grr).

...

the siege (part 6)

Almost, almost, so almost done.

Turns out the main reading is easier to write up. I'm closing in on 500 words to go and I've still a whole 7 hours before my next tute begins.

^_^

...

It's way too late to be doing this kind of bunk.

I need chocolate.

:<

the siege (part 5)

So.

Yeah.

Turns out I'd been writing on the wrong reading.

The optional one.

Smeg.

...

Time for chocolate.

Monday, 30 March 2015

the siege (part 4)

Mmm. Grapes. Grapes are the best.

...

Definitely going stir-crazy here in this lab, but I've now learned a lot about panopticism.

Like, a lot.

Probably more than I'll ever want or need to know.

Hooray?

...

Only 9 hours and 800 words to go.

Please.

Shoot me now.

:<

the siege (part 3)

Mmm. SPAM. So good. ^_^

More seriously though; been researching the controversy surrounding one of the more iconic photographs to emerge from the Vietnam War, Eddie Adams' picture of police chief General Nguyễn Ngọc Loan executing a Vietcong prisoner, Nguyễn Văn Lém:


You'll notice I've put it in upside down.

It's a deliberate attempt on my part to break the immediate associations I assign (and have been taught to assign) the people in the picture. Just because one of them is holding a gun; just because--history tells me, although Adams didn't know it when he took that photo--one of them is about to be very, very dead; just because I (like many) view the Vietnam War to be colossal US cock-up and Loan was fighting on the side attached to the US... just because a lot of assumptions I could name all point towards labelling Lém a victim (i.e. the "good guy" of the piece) and Loan a war-crime perpetrator (i.e. the "bad guy" of the piece); doesn't mean it's as easy as that.

To quote Eddie Adams from a piece he wrote for Time in 1998:
Two people died in that photograph: the recipient of the bullet and GENERAL NGUYEN NGOC LOAN. The general killed the Viet Cong; I killed the general with my camera. Still photographs are the most powerful weapons in the world. People believe them; but photographs do lie, even without manipulation. They are only half-truths. ... What the photograph didn't say was, 'What would you do if you were the general at that time and place on that hot day, and you caught the so-called bad guy after he blew away one, two or three American people?'.... This picture really messed up his life. He never blamed me. He told me if I hadn't taken the picture, someone else would have, but I've felt bad for him and his family for a long time. ... I sent flowers when I heard that he had died and wrote, "I'm sorry. There are tears in my eyes."
See, it turns out that, in all probability, Lém had been involved in the murder of a South Vietnamese colonel, wife, and their six kids.

Ofc, killing isn't justification for more killing, and it's more than probable (I haven't done my research on this) that there were channels that Lém should have been fed through (rather than being executed); but it does lend another angle to the picture that's not really apparent when we look at those pixels, bereft of context:

For Loan, this wasn't an act of cold-blooded murder.

It was justice.

Scarily swift, yes. Brutal, yes. Probably crossing the line over into vengeance, yes. Not to be condoned, yes.

But in a broken, war-torn frame of reference it was also possibly the sanest (or at least, the most human) thing he could do.

No, I'm not being glib with my choice of words there.

I typed "sane" and "most human" quite deliberately.

Because, as Adams asked:

Would you have done any different?

the siege (part 2)

I have supplies! \o/

Wasabi peas, chocolate, grapes. Also SPAM, instant noodles, and a bottle of bloodorange juice that was on markdown. Oh, and a few breakfast shakes for tomorrow (and some energy drinks that were on special. Because, um, reasons).

The lab has been invaded by a late-night tutorial group; however, I have deployed earphones utilising the wonderful sound of a summer thunderstorm.

Silly first years.

Go back to discussing your lecture and stop asking me questions about my hat.

You can't distract me that easily.

I have wasabi peas.

...

First task is to cover the reading for tomorrow's HIST tute; then hash out a brief outline of the required reflection.

And then dinner.

Because actually beginning to feel hungry.

<cue Henry V,  Act 3, Scene 1>

the siege (part 1)

A long night awaits me.

After failing to get in touch with my bed provider for this evening I have decided to stick it out in the computer lab.

Retreat to the car remains an option (if I can't convince the security guy to let me nap under one of the desks), but I hope to hold here as long as possible.

With 13 hours and 1500 words between me and the next tute, this is going to be a protracted engagement where mental fatigue (and the inherent twitchiness that sitting still for longer than 15 minutes brings out in me) will wage war against heart and nerve and sinew (and the very real desire to not flunk my classes).

A siege, if you will.

I better get supplies.

...

Saturday, 14 March 2015

African Dispora

Been studying an English unit this semester called African Dispora; which basically looks at ideas of Africa, dispora, and a shared "African Imagination" that results in a genre of textual works that seem to ignore a lot of the rules of thumb regarding genres, etc.

Something that was raised in a tute by another student was the idea of "African video games". Or rather, she wondered aloud how one might go about making a game about being a slave captured and taken from Africa to the Caribbean; I, otoh, was less fussed by a single game and more struck with the realisation that, while I've never been an obsessive observer of games' origins, I've never really seen a vidya game that I could (having just spent the last two weeks brushing up on my terminology) I could happily include as an outworking of the African dispora.

I'm wondering if The Journey Down might qualify; but I confess I haven't played it, so can't really say. Not really aware of any other potential candidates, although that means little given my surprime ignorance to the wider game-scene.

Been pondering whether the lack of "African" games might be due in part to a similar effect as played out in film where it was only as the medium matured that non-generic, Western views and understandings began to be explored. Dunno though--not an informed opinion; just some rambling ponderings.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Blog update

I've been thinking about how I use (or, more to the point, don't use) this blog and the conclusion I've come to is that I'm just not very good at writing out pieces of any reasonable size for the rest of the world to read without a lot of fussing over the look, feel, and overall tone of the piece--to say nothing of the proof-reading to try and catch errors in grammar & usage.

And so, without further ado, the solution I've come up with is to simply stop writing.

Or, to be more accurate: to stop writing anything that feels "significant", and thus would require the effort/time investment that I'd normally plough into a work of anything greater than, say, 200 words.

So. Yes. That's what's happening.

...

Oh. I also changed the subtitle on the blog from "extracts from an absurd mind" to "snapshots of an absurd mind". Only a minor change, really. But I felt it better reflected the mode I was attempting to step into--shorter posts, probably more frequently, but definitely only bits/snatches of where my thought process is up to that day/hour/moment. Should be entertaining. Plus, if people are confused about something they can always, you know, ask. I hear two-way communication is all the rage these days. :^)

...

Double oh. I've also given up on using tags/labels. The ones I currently have are annoying me. Prolly will fix them at some point. Maybe even soon, if they keep bugging me. :v