Tag Archives: Soviet history

Tea With Chris: The Dance of the Junk

Tea With Chris is a roundup of recommended links, posted every Friday. Here are a few of our favourite things from the Internet this week:

Carl: My pot overfloweth with Tea this week, a sign that I was frequently distracted and losing track of time. (For one thing, I have a double-toothache.) My post last week was several days late and this week’s a day-plus late. So I had to read this article by Annalee Newitz that explains, in neurological terms, how you know what time it is. Unfortunately her two-fold answer for the pathologically tardy seems pretty obvious: Stop being so distracted. And wear a watch. (Do you find a phone won’t do? I’m coming to that conclusion.) But she has an interesting time getting there.

From another blogger on that distracting website, io9, there’s further temporally themed (and, warning, highly “spoiler”-ish) word of the upcoming new film from Andrew Niccol, my (and apparently their) favourite director of middle-brow dystopias, such as The Truman Show and Gattaca. It’s great enough that Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried are starring together. But this also comes with a typical Niccolian one-stop-zeitgeist metaphor – in this case, a future world where time literally is money: Being rich means being almost immortal, being poor means you’re going to die tomorrow, unless you find a way to scrounge some more time. “The cops are called Timekeepers because they keep people from stealing time.” Of course this is an allegory about wealth gaps, a neat bit of anti-life-extension polemic and a parable about “living for today” and such. Plus, opportunity for sexytimes. Or could be, if it doesn’t turn out to be a total timesuck.

The best thing I read this week, though, has to be this post by Tavia Nyong’o, a (quoth Wikipedia) “Kenyan-American cultural critic, historian and performance studies scholar” whom I know through the EMP Pop Conference. (By the way, congratulations to Chris and me, among other friends, for having our proposals for the 2011 Pop Conf in L.A. accepted this week.) Tavia takes two unpromising, too-talked-about subjects of the week, Kanye West and “don’t touch my junk” fever (in which, as one editorial cartoon I saw pointed out, people who dismissed waterboarding as “not much more than a frat prank” are responding to security patdowns by crying rape). And then he synthesizes them via Jacques Lacan’s “discourse of the hysteric” into a complex consideration of the dance of authority, resistance and paranoia in contemporary American culture. Forget the intellectual chops that takes, and appreciate the effort to make them useful to everybody else – while never missing where the funny is.

By comparison this last bag of tea is an indulgence, a cup too far, but two young women in Toronto who are Halbwahrerfreunde of mine just launched a new web magazine of sumptuous pictures of their own friends creating beautiful things, or just being beautiful, and that’s a beautiful way to waste some precious time.

Chris: Sheila Fitzpatrick, a highlight of my university’s Soviet Cultural History course, wrote this London Review of Books essay describing her experiences as a young researcher in 1960s Moscow. (Europe’s endemic spy-paranoia back then makes one wonder how much of Harry Mathews’ ludicrous non-memoir My Life in CIA was actually made up.) She befriends an irreverent Jewish Bolshevik named Igor who somehow managed to outlive Stalin: “The best option in time of purges, according to Igor, was simply to vanish without telling anyone where you were going, like the friend who went south, got himself arrested for stealing chickens and sat out the Great Purges safely in jail. But Igor himself had sat them out in Moscow, keeping his head down. It was a great relief when the Second World War came and he could volunteer for active service, hoping (as I gathered) to be killed.” Fitzpatrick’s article includes a vintage photo of them. She looks girlish, chic, excited about everything; he seems to be bemused by the fact that he’s still alive.

Confidential to Kat: “My morning began with the fascinating story of Kurt, a forgotten Nazi weather station installed on the coast of Labrador during World War II that was only rediscovered in 1981.”

Margaux: I just read this article “The Countertraffickers” by William Finnegan that looks at the people who fight for those tricked or captured and sold as slaves – a more gentle entry into this topic than normal. The article mentions the movie Lilya-4-Ever. Lilya-4-Ever, based on a true story, is just as good as the article but it has less information and is more painful.

On this Wikipedia page, you can see a world map of the countries around the world who comply with the “Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children” guidelines established by the UN in 2000 and those who don’t.

Not sure what to do now. Micro-credit loans for Christmas presents?

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Filed under carl wilson, chris randle, linkblogging, margaux williamson