Art Spiegelman … who won a Pulitzer prize for Maus, his story of the Holocaust, has written for Saturday’s Guardian that he was approached by publisher the Folio Society to write an introduction to Marvel: The Golden Age 1939–1949, a collection ranging from Captain America to the Human Torch.
Tracing how “the young Jewish creators of the first superheroes conjured up mythic – almost godlike – secular saviours” to address political issues such as the Great Depression and the second world war, Spiegelman finishes his essay by saying: “In today’s all too real world, Captain America’s most nefarious villain, the Red Skull, is alive on screen and an Orange Skull haunts America.” (Alison Flood, Guardian, 16 August 2019)
Spiegelman was asked to remove the sentence and when he refused to do so his essay was pulled. The Marvel Entertainment chairman, the US billionaire Isaac ‘Ike’ Perlmutter, is a close friend of Donald Trump.
Here is Spiegelman’s essay, in full.
“On geological timescales, human civilization is an event, not an epoch … The idea of the Anthropocene inflates our own importance by promising eternal geological life to our creations. It is of a thread with our species’ peculiar, self-styled exceptionalism—from the animal kingdom, from nature, from the systems that govern it, and from time itself. This illusion may, in the long run, get us all killed …”
From Peter Brannen’s excellent essay on “the arrogance of the Anthropocene” (Atlantic, August 13, 2019).
The modern era has been dominated by the culminating belief, expressed in different forms, that the world … is a wholly knowable system governed by a finite number of universal laws that man can grasp and rationally direct for his own benefit … This, in turn, gave rise to the proud belief that man, as the pinnacle of everything that exists, was capable of objectively describing, explaining and controlling everything that exists, and of possessing the one and only truth about the world … It was an era of ideologies, doctrines, interpretations of reality, an era where the goal was to find a universal theory of the world, and thus a universal key to unlock its prosperity.
Communism was the perverse extreme of this trend … The fall of communism can be regarded as a sign that modern thought—based on the premise that the world is objectively knowable, and that the knowledge so obtained can be absolutely generalized—has come to a final crisis … I think the end of communism is a serious warning to all mankind. It is a signal that the era of arrogant, absolutive reason is drawing to a close and that it is high time to draw conclusions from that fact.
Václav Havel, Address to World Economic Forum, Davos, Switzerland, 4 February 1992.
Kim Seo-kyung and Kim Eun-sung, Statue of a Girl of Peace (2011).
Another one for the memory hole.
When the Aichi Triennial’s 2019 edition opened to the public on August 1, it included a mini-show titled “After ‘Freedom of Expression?’ ” that dealt with the censorship of artworks in Japan. That section included a work by Korean artists Kim Seo-kyung and Kim Eun-sung that dealt explicitly with Japan’s brutal history of ianfu, or comfort women, who were drawn from around Asia, particularly Korea, and forced into sexual slavery during World War II. (This history was not officially acknowledged by Japan until 2015.) Three days after the opening of the show, the triennial’s artistic director Daisuke Tsuda, working with the governor of Aichi Prefecture, closed the section.
In an August 6 open letter posted to Facebook, 72 of the over 90 participating artists decried the decision to close that show, deeming it censorship. A week later, nine of the artists have called for the removal of their artworks in the Triennale for as long as “After ‘Freedom of Expression?’” remains closed, “as a public gesture of solidarity with the censored artists.” ( Art News
The artists’ statement reads, in part
Many concerns are shared around the world today, including anxieties related to the increase in terrorism, cutbacks in hiring domestic workers, crime, and making ends meet. Feelings of aversion towards refugees and immigrants have risen to unprecedented heights in the United States and Europe. The United Kingdom voted to leave the EU in 2016. Donald Trump was voted president of the United States under the platform of “America First.” Xenophobic voices have become emboldened here in Japan as well. At the source is anxiety—the anxiety of an uncertain future, and the anxiety of feeling unsafe and vulnerable to danger.
The Welsh seaside town of Porthcawl is planning to install anti-sex public toilets that would spray occupants with water and sound an alarm.
Violent movement sensors would automatically open the doors and sound high-pitched alarms, with fine water jets soaking the interior. Weight-sensitive floors would ensure only one user could be in a cubicle at a time, to safeguard against “inappropriate sexual activity and vandalism”.
Porthcawl town council is spending £170,000 on the futuristic toilets in Griffin Park, according to WalesOnline. The planning documents detail a range of security features to deter rough sleeping, including an audible warning, combined with lights and heating being switched off. (Guardian, 16 August 2019).
Priorities in Brexitland. Keep it up, lads.
Funding fascist environmentalism, US-style.
In the week where Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), rewrote Emma Lazarus’s poem on the Statue of Liberty to welcome only “European immigrants escaping class-based prejudice,” “who can stand on their own two feet,” a disturbing long read from the New York Times.
“She was an heiress without a cause — an indifferent student, an unhappy young bride, a miscast socialite. Her most enduring passion was for birds.
But Cordelia Scaife May eventually found her life’s purpose: curbing what she perceived as the lethal threat of overpopulation by trying to shut America’s doors to immigrants.
She believed that the United States was “being invaded on all fronts” by foreigners, who “breed like hamsters” and exhaust natural resources. She thought that the border with Mexico should be sealed and that abortions on demand would contain the swelling masses in developing countries.
An heiress to the Mellon banking and industrial fortune with a half-billion dollars at her disposal, Mrs. May helped create what would become the modern anti-immigration movement.”
Nicholas Kulish and Aug. 14, 2019.
The English surrealist and documentary filmmaker Humphrey Jennings explained the intellectual project of his book Pandaemonium as to “present, not describe or analyse” the “imaginative history of the Industrial Revolution … by means of what I call Images. These are quotations from writings of the period in question … which either in the writing or in the nature of the matter itself or both have revolutionary and symbolic and illuminatory quality. I mean that they contain in little a whole world—they are the knots in a great net of tangled time and space—the moments at which the situation of humanity is clear—even if only for the flash time of the photographer or the lighting.”
These fragments are intended to function in the same way. Click on the headings to go to the original articles, which are mostly from the mainstream aka fake news media.