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CULTURE Autumn 2020 exhibitions at the Uffizi and Palazzo Pitti – The Florentine

Posted: September 24, 2020 at 3:56 pm

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Editorial Staff

September 24, 2020 - 14:51

The autumn looks bright at the Uffizi Galleries with three inspiring exhibitions focusing on Raphael and the restoration of the portrait of Pope Leo X, a look at the role of women in Ancient Rome, and the enlightenment of science in Joseph Wright of Derbys painting An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump.

These three initiatives fit well within the Uffizis exhibition philosophy, explained Uffizi Galleries director Eike Schmidt in a press release. The Roman women exhibition marks the tenth show dedicated to womens art in recent years, while the Leo X show focusing on the technical implications of a ground-breaking restoration and the magnificent painting by Joseph Wright of Derby, which outlines the wonder derived from an experiment, connect with the theme of research and natural science, with a multidisciplinary approach that benefits humanistic knowledge.

Joseph Wright of Derbys 1768 masterpiece An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump comes to Italy for the first time thanks to a loan agreement with Londons National Gallery. The candle-lit painting quickly became an icon in the history of science. Now, in these months of the pandemic, the work takes on additional significance in the light of scientific discoveries and peoples reactions. The show will run from October 6, 2020 to January 24, 2021.

Following the paintings restoration at Florences Opificio delle Pietre Dure and subsequent display at the start of the major exhibition at Romes Scuderie del Quirinale to mark the five hundredth anniversary of Raphaels death, the Portrait of Pope Leo X with cardinals Giulio de Medici and Luigi de Rossi returns home to the Uffizi. The show documents the restoration and conveys the scientific analysis of the work. The subtle differences between the various shades of red, textures of the fabrics and the artists introspection in portraiture can now all be noted. The exhibition will run at Palazzo Pitti from October 27, 2020 to January 31, 2021.

This Uffizi exhibition compares opposing models that typify the depiction of women in Roman times and is separated into three sections: negative female examples, positive examples and the public role of the matrona. Sculptures, epigraphs, gems and drawings, mostly belonging to the Uffizi Galleries and others loaned from institutions, illustrate a widely documented span of time, the golden age of the empire, from the rise of Augustus to the death of Marcus Aurelius. The show will run from November 3, 2020 to April 11, 2021.

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CULTURE Autumn 2020 exhibitions at the Uffizi and Palazzo Pitti - The Florentine

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September 24th, 2020 at 3:56 pm

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Interview: I like to be reminded that literature has the power and mystery of a dragon, says Australian-Iranian… – Hindustan Times

Posted: September 13, 2020 at 11:54 am

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Female leftist students chant anti oppression slogans while standing in rows with piles of newspapers and cardboard ready to burn in case of tear gas attack by Revolutionary Guards, before street clashes with Hezbollah forces broke outside Tehran university campus, on the occasion of Cultural Revolution, 21st April 1981. The Cultural Revolution (1980-1987) was a period following the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran where the academia of Iran was purged of Western and non-Islamic influences to bring it in line with Shia Islam. The official name used by the Islamic Republic is "Cultural Revolution." Directed by the Cultural Revolutionary Headquarters and later by the Supreme Cultural Revolution Council, the revolution initially closed universities for three years (1980-1983) and after reopening banned many books and purged thousands of students and lecturers from the schools. The cultural revolution involved a certain amount of violence in taking over the university campuses since higher education in Iran at the time was dominated by leftists forces opposed to Ayatollah Khomeini's vision of theocracy, and they (unsuccessfully) resisted Khomeiniist control at many universities. (Kaveh Kazemi/Getty Images)

The literature that has always fascinated Australian-Iranian author Shokoofeh Azar, 48, is the kind that has the pulse of its time in its hand. The kind that grabs my heart, slaps me in the face, captures my soul, wakes me up from ignorance and reminds me that literature has the power and mystery of a dragon, says the Melbourne-based author, whose own novel, The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree (Europa Editions) does exactly this as it captures the zeitgeist of Iran following the establishment of an Islamic state.

Set in Tehran during the first decade of the 1979 Islamic Islamic Revolution, Azars novel is a fine example of the ingenious use of magic realism. Narrated by the ghost of a 13-year-old girl, Bahar, it tells the story of an intellectual family of five compelled to flee their home in Tehran for Razan, a remote village, in the hope that they will be spared the religious madness engulfing the country. They eventually succumb to the atrocities perpetrated by the fundamentalist regime.

Peopled by the living and the dead, humans and jinns, fireflies and dragonflies, spirits and soothsayers, magical creatures and mermaids, the novel opens with Roza, the mother, attaining enlightenment atop the tallest greengage plum tree in the grove of their house on a hill overlooking the 53 houses of the village. She does that at the exact moment on August 18, 1988, when her son, Sohrab, blindfolded and with his hands tied behind his back, is hanged without a trial after being in captivity for many months. The next day, he is buried with hundreds of other political prisoners in a long pit in the deserts south of Tehran, without any indication or marker lest a relative come years later and tap a pebble on a headstone and murmur there is no god but God. As the novel progresses we discover how the familys destinies are deeply entangled in the events that unfold over the decade and get a glimpse into the reign of terror unleashed by the mullahs at the behest of Ayatollah Khomeini, the supreme religious leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, who came to power after overthrowing Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi of Pahlavi dynasty.

Ayatollah Khomeini ( Getty Images )

A month after the end of the eight-year Iran-Iraq war, in the summer of 1988, more than 5,000 opponents of the Islamic regime were executed in the prisons without trial or by speedy and unfair trials. From that date until today, the regime has never officially acknowledged the massacre. And, due to censorship, it has never been a part of the Iranian literature, says Azar, underlining that wrong political systems take more lives than the corona virus.

Written in Persian but never published in Iran though it is available on some websites, the novel captures the tumultuous social and political realities of Iran through a delicate blend of its classic storytelling styles myths, legends and folk traditions. It was translated into English and published in Australia in 2017 by a small publisher, Wild Dingo Press. After it was shortlisted for the 2018 Stella Prize, the US, UK and Italy rights were sold to Europa Editions and the book was published overseas in January this year.

This is the first time that an Iranian author has been nominated for the International Booker Prize. However, it is unlikely that the novel will ever be published in Iran. The American translator of the novel, who often travels to the country, has chosen to remain anonymous. Azar, who worked as a journalist in Iran and covered social affairs, was put behind bars several times until she was compelled to flee the country and move to Melbourne in 2011. For Azar who is also the first Iranian woman to have hitchhiked the entire length of the Silk Road, the Booker International nomination was a dream come true. And though the award eventually went to Marieke Lucas Rijnevelds The Discomfort of Evening, the novels availability and recognition in the West means English readers will discover afresh the depth and significance of Irans rich history of classic literature and culture.

Azars focus is on highlighting the fate of humans under dictatorial regimes. For the novel, she drew on the stories of many of her friends who lost several family members and it is full of incidents and scenes that describe the atrocities of the regime in gruesome detail. In a paragraph following Sohrabs hanging, Azar writes: In the following days, the number of people executed increased so much that corpses piled high in the prison back yard and began to stink, and Evins ants, flies, crows, and cats, who hadnt had such a feast since the prison was built, licked, sucked and picked at them greedily. Juvenile political prisoners were granted a pardon by the Imam if they fired the final shot that would put the condemned out of their misery. With bruised faces, trembling hands, and pants soaked with urine, hundreds of thirteen and fourteen-year-olds, whose only crime had been participating in a party meeting, reading banned pamphlets, or distributing flyers in the street, fired the last shot into faces that were sometimes still watching them with twitching pupils.

For the mothers, just like Sohrab was to Roza, their sons were the culmination of heartbeats, desires, loves and hopes that they had endured their entire life only to lose them in the end. When Sohrab is hanged, the family sees a sense of hopelessness seeping into the very cells of their being. Their father, Hushang, asks them to write anything to come to terms with the tragedy. But with each word they commit to paper, they understand that, contrary to what their father believed, culture, knowledge, and art retreat in the face of violence, the sword and fire and for years after remain barren and mute. Bahar tells us: It had happened many times before, during the years following the Arab conquest of Persia in the seventh century, for example, a period the scholar Abdolhossein Zarrinkoub called the two centuries of silence.

Azar says that a small minority in Iran, including her own family, believes that the Shahs regime was much more reformist, modern, and patriotic than the Islamic regime. History has practically proved the same to the Iranian people, she says, adding how, for the past 20 years, since the first large-scale demonstration, known as University Dormitory Demonstrations (Kouy-e Daneshgah) in 2000, people across the country have held thousands of peaceful demonstrations against injustice, discrimination, politicised Islam, economic corruption, political corruption, repression of dissidents and censorship. But not even in one case has the regime responded positively to these protests and the peoples share of these protests has been only arrest, imprisonment and execution, she says.

In the novel, Azar intended to be a narrator of a tiny percentage of Iranian dissidents in the 1979 revolution who voted No to the Islamic Republic in the 1980 referendum; the families that were very similar to her own. These families opposed Islam, Khomeini, and the Revolution, and considered the Islamic Revolution as an irreparable deviation in the development of modern Iran, she says. Even the dissidents, who were later arrested and executed in the summer of 1988, had voted Yes to this regime in the 1980 referendum. She says: If this novel had been written in the 1980s, a large population of Iranians would have opposed the story. But, today, 40 years after the regime formation, nearly 90 percent of Iranians have understood that the Islamic Revolution was an irreversible mistake in the process of development and democracy of Iran.

Author Shokoofeh Azar

In the novel, the fictional Khomeini is tortured by the ghosts of those executed, imprisoned in the palace of mirrors they force him to build. Trapped in the palace, the dictator meets his ugly end, having been forced to understand that while delivering monologues he may have been a fierce ruler, but in dialogue he was nothing but a bearded, illogical little boy, stubborn and pompous. The dictator whispers a single sentence in his last moments: It took 87 years to understand that the intellectual and formal rules of the monologue are fundamentally different from those of dialogue.

Azar, whose novel has brought the story of the political excesses of the Islamic regime in Iran to the attention of readers in the West, feels that there is a linguistic disconnect between the intellectual and literary products of Iranians and the world. Excellent books, mainly non-fiction, have been published in Farsi (inside and outside Iran), but have never been translated into another language. Thus, the West has little idea of the evolution of Iranian thought, she says.

Magical realism gives Azar the possibilities that realism does not. In my opinion, the best style to show the height and depth of real human feelings and emotions is magical realism. In this novel, I have tried to present that fantasy and magic in magic realism can be used in the service of factual events. Therefore, the magic realism in this novel has been used to document the real political, social and religious issues in Iran. That is, magic serves realism in this novel, she says.

It was magic realism that helped her write the kind of novel that Azar herself likes to read: one that belongs to the category of literature that reminds us of human conscience and morality amid the collapse of social morality; literature that believes in humanity; literature that comes from reckless, exploratory, critical, creative and pioneer minds. It is the kind of writing that has shaped Azars own mind and writing, as it has the minds and work of many other Iranian theatre writer-directors, mythologists, philosophers, music composers and painters.

Nawaid Anjum is an independent journalist, translator and poet. He lives in New Delhi.

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Interview: I like to be reminded that literature has the power and mystery of a dragon, says Australian-Iranian... - Hindustan Times

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September 13th, 2020 at 11:54 am

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Akwa Ibom to partner royal fathers on COVID-19 protocol enlightenment and enforcemen – Daily Sun

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Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Comrade Ini Ememobong is set to partner traditional chieftains on enlightenment and enforcement of COVID-19 protocol.

The commissioner made this known on Friday during an advocacy visit to the State Traditional Rulers Council along Wellington Bassey Way, Uyo.

Comrade Ini Ememobong who was accompanied by his counterpart in the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Hon. Frank Archibong said, as Royal Fathers whose subjects look up to for direction, their actions will impact greatly on the people and pledged to partner them on COVID-19 enlightenment and enforcement.

He urged the traditional chieftains to continue to lead by example in complying strictly with COVID-19 protocols so that the people in their different domain can key in.

Disclosing that, so far COVID-19 has no cure, the state Spokesman urged the traditional rulers to join hands with Governor Udom Emmanuel Emmanuel in the fight against the spread of the dreaded pandemic with increased awareness on the NCDC/WHO/AKSG COVID-19 protocols.

The traditional rulers expressed appreciation to the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Comrade Ini Ememobong for paying homage to the traditional institution and commended him for his readiness to partner the traditional institution in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic in the state.

The Royal fathers used the occasion to thank Governor Udom Emmanuel for the appointment of Comrade Ini Ememobong and Hon. Frank Archibong as members of the State Executive Council.

The Traditional Rulers council comprising of all the 31 Paramount Rulers in the state, is headed by a Chairman of the Council who is the Paramount Ruler of Nsit Ubium and Okuibom Ibibio, Ntenyin Solomon Etuk.

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Akwa Ibom to partner royal fathers on COVID-19 protocol enlightenment and enforcemen - Daily Sun

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September 13th, 2020 at 11:54 am

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, and – Locus Online

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Clarkesworld 6/20 Lightspeed 7/20 6/10/20, 6/17/20

Junes Clarkesworld leads off with The Iridescent Lake from regular D.A. Xiaolin Spires. Yunhe, who is dealing with the death of her son, works as a security guard at an ice skating rink where the ice has truly fantastic properties. Scientists have been studying it, but there are many active smuggling attempts that she must guard against and perhaps participate in. With How Long the Shadows Cast, Kenji Yanagawa brings us a slowly evolving story. Shunzo is a researcher of an alien language, and also an alcoholic dealing with the tragic and personally damning death of his partner. Hes been on one expedition to space and is hoping to maintain his spot on the next when a stranger comes into his life, camped out on his front doorstep. Shes a physics researcher with some esoteric interests. They fall in love, and he has many choices to make and hard truths to face. Shunzos character is nicely three dimensional, and the length of the story gives all the character and plot elements room to breathe.

M.l. Clarke continues to expand the world that we first saw in To Catch All Sorts of Flying Things. In this issue Nine Words for Loneliness in the Language of the Umau shows us a space station in orbit around the planet weve visited so far. Awenato is the sole survivor of a diplomatic mission to the station just as they were disembarking they were attacked by terrorists, and his mate as well as the rest of the party were killed. Now he must deal with recovering from his injuries, grieving, navigating the station when he doesnt speak the languages very well, dealing with other alien species with very different attitudes, and trying to get some measure of justice for his fallen comrades. Clarks inventiveness and attention to detail in building up these alien societies and characters continues to shine.

In a post-collapse future, the world is largely controlled by a panopticon AI called the Jade. In Optimizing the Path to Enlightenment by Priya Chand, Anju is a technician who begins furtively exploiting gaps in the Jades coverage in order to enjoy some mild hedonism, like drinking fruit juice. Even as she is starting to widen those gaps intentionally, she has some doubts about the wisdom of sabotaging the system, wondering what could be unleashed. Finally, she has an encounter with the Jade itself, placing her on a very different path to enlightenment. Own Goal by Dennard Dayle gives us the journal of an ad man struggling with the death of his mother and all the feelings that invokes, as his family goes through the grief and funeral process. He also has to keep up with his advertising job, in this case making a pitch for branding a particular weapons system. Then the space station he lives on gets caught up in the war. The ending could have been a bit punchier if the story had been a little more focused, but I had no problem enjoying it throughout.

Ray Naylers The Swallows of the Storm in Julys Lightspeed is the latest in a very productive run of short fiction lately. Dr. Nino is a Georgian researcher who has spent her whole life chasing a mystery perfect holes that show up in seemingly random places in the environment, taking chunks out of dirt, plants, animals, and sometimes unlucky humans. We meet her during a Congressional inquiry, when these holes have become too much to ignore. We get her testimony and also the perspective of her research assistant Harlan. The mystery is resolved in a nicely SFnal way, and I very much appreciated the denouement as well.

Kristina Tens Baba Yaga and the Seven Hills is very entertaining. Baba Yagas famous hut has gotten fed up with her and walked off, so she travels to San Francisco. Hilarity ensues as she rents a room and must put up with housemates, as she talks to waitresses and pot dealers, who have their own magic, and venture capitalist wizards speaking a completely different language. The concept and execution are great, but the story seems to almost stop dead instead of coming to a full resolution. Mari Ness continues mining rich veins of older stories to create her own: in Great Greta and the Mermaid she imagines scholars reconstructing a story about Greta, a pirate marooned on Peter Pans island, and how an encounter with a Lost Boy led to a much sexier encounter with a mermaid. The style of an academic continually interrogating different sources will work better for some readers than others, but the denouement fleshes out the story quite well.

I saw two stories in in June. The first is Were Here, Were Here by K.M. Szpara. It imagines a near-future revival of the boy band phenomenon, and we focus on Tyler, a transgender man living his dream of being a boy band singer. During one performance Jasper kisses Tyler on stage, which sets off a tizzy in the management, not because of gay/trans issues but because they want Tylers image to be the wholesome, available one and dont want fans constantly shipping Tyler and Jasper. But Tylers had a crush on Jasper and this raises all kinds of intense feelings in him, feelings he can barely give voice to. He is again rendered voiceless when the management asserts control over his speech implant, but the boys of the band pull together. Its a very sweet story.

Two Truths and a Lie by Sarah Pinsker starts off in a relatively mundane way. Stella has returned home because a childhood friends odd brother has died. She feels guilty that the friendship had faded, and offers to help clean out the brothers house. He was a hoarder and, after first being just gross, things take a strange turn when Stella invents what she thinks is a lie about an old local TV kids show, and instead finds videos of it in the brothers house. The Uncle Bob Show featured a man telling strange stories directly to the camera while children played on the set, and it turns out that most people remember the show even if Stella doesnt. As she researches more, she starts to see connections between the stories creepy Uncle Bob was telling and the fates of some of her childhood friends, and the story continues to get weirder from there. The ending is nicely underplayed.

Recommended Stories

Nine Words for Loneliness in the Language of the Umau, M.L. Clark (Clarkesworld 6/20) The Swallows of the Storm, Ray Nayler (Lightspeed 7/20) Two Truths and a Lie, Sarah Pinsker ( 6/17/20) How Long the Shadows Cast, Kenji Yanagawa (Clarkesworld 6/20)

Karen Burnham is an electromagnetics engineer by way of vocation, and a book reviewer/critic by way of avocation. She has worked on NASA projects including the Dream Chaser spacecraft and currently works in the automotive industry in Michigan. She has reviewed for venues such as Locus Magazine, NYRSF, Strange Horizons,, and Cascadia Subduction Zone. She has produced podcasts for and, especially SF Crossing the Gulf with Karen Lord. Her book on Greg Egan came out from University of Illinois Press in 2014, and she has twice been nominated in the Best Non Fiction category of the British SF Awards.

This review and more like it in the August 2020 issue of Locus.

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, and - Locus Online

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September 13th, 2020 at 11:54 am

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This isnt the time to forget Benjamin Franklin – Grand Island Independent

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Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man wealthy, healthy and wise, is a saying of Benjamin Franklins, meaning he must have gone to bed early. Now, members of a Washington, D.C., governmental committee, wanting to defriend him sometime soon, cant even find their own beds. Maybe they are wealthy and healthy, but when they say they dont want any public building in the city to have his name on it, they are judgmentally impaired.

There I go, searching out euphemisms for these cancel-culture demons (not a euphemism) who think America is nothing to brag about, that our whole history is something akin to a Ku Klux Klan march. In D.C. right now, they have put together a list of some pretty extraordinary human beings whose duty is to disappear. What these foes of patriotism want is to disallow the names of all kinds of ex-presidents and founders on public office buildings, public schools and the like if they had anything to do with slavery.

And look, its true that, before he became an abolitionist also serving the sick, the uneducated, those whose houses were on fire and a revolution that likely would have fizzled without him, Franklin owned slaves. He gave them up as he then gave in to excelling in everything from chess to athletics and turning the world around for the better.

What may not be as well-known about him is that he was one of the foremost scientists of the 18th century, the Enlightenment. Just about everyone knows the tale of his flying a kite in a lightning storm and of his later inventing the lighting rod, but do people know how he worked with others in investigating electricity to the extent of better enabling modernity to become modernity, of surrounding us with electricitys endless civilizational benefits?

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This isnt the time to forget Benjamin Franklin - Grand Island Independent

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September 13th, 2020 at 11:54 am

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Joe Rogan’s ‘Inner Voice’ Hack Could Be The Secret To True Workout Zen – DMARGE

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Snoozing alarms, a pale ale with mates or just a simple Ill go tomorrow: all common excuses for passing on the gym. If you disagree and were to tell us youve never skipped lifting weights to curl a couple of schooners, wed look up into the sky and expect to see some pigs.

Like it or not, your inner voice can have a tremendous (if somewhat unintentional) effect on your daily goals, especially when it comes to deciding whether or not to go to the gym.

Its something celebrity podcaster Joe Rogan seems to suffer from on occasion too, and hes recently taken to Instagram to regale his story and to provide worldly advice so that you never let yours take control of you again.

Move over Buddha; though a little rough around the edges, this could be true enlightenment

Speaking of his inner [wimp] and how it put up a hell of a fight today, Joe says he nearly did skip the gym in favour of enjoying the morning and just drinking coffee and relaxing instead of the workout that I planned.

His story didnt end there, however. Instead Joe got after it and completed his workout, much to his benefit. Im so happy I did, he tells his fans.

He then parts some advice, Its amazing how procrastination and laziness can sneak up on you some days, and how, much like inspiration, its got weak days and strong days.

I think the key is to never give yourself that option. Ever.

Today was close, though, but ultimately I got it in, and I feel so good because I did.

Its not just Mr. Rogan: taking this non negotiable approach with yourself is something renowned self-help coach Tony Robbins is a huge advocate of too (see him try to explain the concept to a hilariously indisciplined Russell Brand here).

It seems Joes words have resonated with several Instagram users, with comments such as:

Needed this today, got the class done.

Thats it, Im working out today

Even Hollywood actor Josh Brolin found Joes words useful: Yes! Did the same today and so glad I did it. My lungs dont want to expand right now and I will fight through it until they do. Time to break through to next level conditioning.

Summoning the motivation to work out, or to lose weight and gain muscle, is a trait shared by many. But as weve previously seen from this Redditthread, simply looking at guys around you, or accepting that youre going to have low times not to mention taking heed of Joes advice to not let your inner voice get the better of you is all the motivation you could need.

The weights await.

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Joe Rogan's 'Inner Voice' Hack Could Be The Secret To True Workout Zen - DMARGE

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September 13th, 2020 at 11:54 am

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Prop 13: Taxes and the Importance of an Open Mind – LA Progressive

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How Tibbetan Buddists Helped Me Seek Enlightenment at Howard Jarviss House

Want to stop worrying so much about the future of California? Go and say a prayer at Howard Jarviss house.

No historic plaques mark the five-bedroom home at 515 N. Crescent Heights Blvd., which sits between West Hollywood and L.A.s Miracle Mile. But this is where the famed anti-tax activist Jarvis lived, held meetings with Gov. Jerry Brown and other California players, and organized Proposition 13, 1978s tax-limiting ballot initiative that still dominates California politics.

Another fall fight over Prop 13 is underway. The November ballots Proposition 15 proposes to lift Prop 13 caps on taxing commercial properties, thus creatingdepending on whom you askeither billions of dollars for education or new burdens for businesses. So, recently, I went over to check on the historic houseand got an unexpected lesson about how California and its homes keep changing, even if its initiative politics never do.

The recognition that I have more questions than answers is OK. Because uncertainty about what comes next, for me or for a proposition or for a house, might be the most powerful answer we ever get.

Jarviss undistinguished gray house is nowNechung Dharmapala, L.A.s Tibetan Buddhist Center. The home has been painted a distinguished shade of orange associated with Buddhism. Above the front windows, two deer surround a wheel representing the Dharma, and a small stupaa hemispheric structure representing the enlightened mindrests outside the front door.

Inside, bedrooms are occupied by two monks, one an administrator, and the other the centers spiritual director. The large, high-ceilinged living room where Jarvis once conducted the angriest California politics of the 20th century has been turned into a 21st-century sanctuary for lessons on the renunciation of ego, the development of compassion, and the possibility of enlightenment for all beings.

At first, the homes political past and religious present seemed discordant, but the more I contemplated the place, the more I began to see the continuities and connections. Indeed, 515 N. Crescent Heights Blvd. has become a double-monument to both the perils of revolutions and the paradoxes of protection. The houses history asks: Why do humans suffer so much in their search for the safety and stability that this world only fleetingly provides?

Prop 13 was a great victory of a conservative California revolution that promised protectionagainst rising taxes, especially the property taxes that raise the cost of homes and thus displace people. The paradox is that the protector Prop 13 hasnt protected us from Californias high taxes or extortionate housing prices.

Protection is also Nechung Dharmapalas reason for being. This Buddhist center is associated with Tibets centuries-old Nechung Monastery, which is the headquarters of the State Oracle of Tibet, who embodies the deity Pehar, also known as The Protector of Religion.

Of course, the protector Pehar couldnt stop Chinese communists from destroying Nechung Monastery and Tibets other religious sites after the 1949 revolution. But therein lies the paradox. The communists attacks on religion actually protected the faith. Tibetan Buddhists fled, spreading their teachings and establishing centers around the globe, eventually reaching Howard Jarviss front door.

Jarviss Tudor-style house was built in 1925, according to county records. Jarvis, a Utah native and jack Mormon (he drank cheap vodka he carried in his briefcase), bought it in 1941 for $8,000. He stayed there for the rest of his life, through at least one renovation and three marriages, the last to Estelle Garcia.

During the 1970s and 1980s, Jarvis held court in a big comfortable chair, smoking a cigar and eating Estelles corn soup, while distinguished visitors sat on simple sofas. The house was filled with energy and the conviction that a handful of people, without holding office, could upend the world.

There were some curses, but no prayers, recalls the Jarvis aide Joel Fox, who also served for a time as president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, which remains a force, leading this falls campaign to fight Prop 15, and thus protect Prop 13.

Prop 13 governs modern California because it controls the money: Specifically, it requires a two-thirds popular vote to raise local taxes, and a two-thirds vote of the legislature to raise state taxes. But most Californians associate it with its property tax provisions, which cap overall taxes and allow for the reassessment of properties at market value only when they are sold.

When Prop 13 passed, Jarviss 3,000-square-foot home, on a 5,900-square-foot lot in a desirable part of L.A.s westsidewhich hed bought nearly 40 years earlierwas assessed at less than $60,000. Its annual tax bills, based on that low base, would stay below $1,000, even as neighboring homeowners paid 10 times that. In 2005, the home assessed value for tax purposes was $75,854; in 2006, after Estelle died (Jarvis himself died in 1986), it was reassessed at $1.25 million.

The house was sold in 2008 according to county records, and put up for sale again in 2013as Tibetan Buddhists were growing desperate in their search for an L.A. headquarters.

The Nechung Kuten, who is also the Chief State Oracle of Tibet, had visited L.A. in 2007 and 2009 and called for the establishment of a center where Tibetans, Mongolians, and Westerners could study and practice Buddhism in a non-sectarian way. A donor stepped forward to fund a center, but finding the right placewith both a big gathering room and small bedrooms quiet enough for monkswas hard. Until a real estate agent took them to 515 N. Crescent Heights Blvd.

They bought the house in 2013 for $1.38 million. It took more than a year to redecorate the home in a Tibetan style, construct the shrine, and install the Buddha statues. In 2014, the center opened, and the space is often full.

In Jarviss old living room, resident teacher Geshe Wangchuk now presides. He became a monk at age 12 (with ordination at the Nechung Monastery in Dharamsala, India) and arrived at Nechung L.A. in 2016. Hes skilled not only in explaining Buddhist philosophy but in the creation of sand mandalas and butter sculptures.

During the pandemic, Geshe Wangchuk shifted his daily practices and weekly teachings online. On Saturday mornings this summer, I watched him instruct, via, Zoom, and Facebook, a highly diverse group of Californians. The lessons leaned on a text, The Three Principal Aspects of the Path, by Je Tsongkhapa, a 14th-century teacher of Tibetan Buddhism. One passage presented a particular puzzle:

Furthermore when appearance dispels the extreme of existence, And when emptiness dispels the extreme of non-existence, And if you understand how emptiness arises as cause and effect, You will never be captivated by views grasping at extremes.

I wondered if a mind could really be that open. Does avoiding extremes require feeling empty and uncertain about whether you actually exist? And how, I asked, might I apply such enlightenment to 515 N. Crescent Heights Blvd. or any of the extremes of todays California?

The team at Nechung L.A. had no idea of the houses history and knew nothing of Jarvis. In a conversation with Nechung L.A.s board secretary, Tenzin Thokme, I found myself starting to explain Prop 13, and then why Prop 15 is in the news. But my explanations were mostly just questions. Might Prop 15 pull a few billion more dollars out of commercial property and into the schools? Or might the initiatives many exemptions be exploited by wealthy property owners? Might this measure at the very least make a symbolic strike against Prop 13or will the whole exercise just reinforce Prop 13s power?

But if I understood Geshe Wangchuk, the recognition that I have more questions than answers is OK. Because uncertainty about what comes next, for me or for a proposition or for a house, might be the most powerful answer we ever get. Je Tsongkhapa taught it best 600 years ago: If the entire object of grasping at certitude is dismantled, at that point your analysis of the view has culminated.

Joe Mathews Zcalo

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Prop 13: Taxes and the Importance of an Open Mind - LA Progressive

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Meera Sodha’s vegan recipe for Shaoxing and soy braised tofu with pak choi – The Guardian

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Meera Sodhas braised Shaoxing tofu. Photograph: Louise Hagger/The Guardian. Food styling: Emily Kydd. Prop styling: Jennifer Kay. Food assistant: Katy Gilhooly.

After considerable experimentation, Im willing to put a stake in the ground and say that Ive found a favourite way with tofu. Of course, there might soon be another new favourite way, but until then, it is this: fry it hard, then braise it. Frying it over a high heat gives the tofu a crisp exterior, while a quick soft braise makes those crisp edges delightfully chewy and allows the tofu to soak up whatever sauce its put in. This was a point of kitchen enlightenment for me, and I hope it is for you, too.

Its worth doing all the prep up front and putting things into small piles within reach of the stove, because this comes together in a few minutes. Shaoxing wine tastes much like dry sherry and many major supermarkets now stock their own brand; otherwise, youll find it in any Chinese supermarket.

Prep 15 min Cook 45 min Serves 4

8 dried shiitake mushrooms (or 10g) 1 tbsp cornflour 2 tbsp Shaoxing wine 2 tbsp light soy sauce 1 tbsp dark soy sauce 1 tsp caster sugar 450g extra-firm tofu, pressed to remove the water 2 tbsp neutral oil 3cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated 5 garlic cloves, peeled and minced 6 spring onions, trimmed and cut on a steep angle 2 birds eye chillies, finely chopped 250g pak choi, shredded Steamed rice, to serve

Put the mushrooms in a small heatproof bowl and pour over 300ml freshly boiled water. Theyll do their best to float, but immerse them by pressing them down with a spoon or gently pressing the base of another bowl on top. Leave for 10 minutes, then squeeze out the mushrooms into the bowl, and finely slice the flesh; put both the liquid and mushrooms to one side.

In a separate little bowl, mix the cornflour with two tablespoons of the mushroom stock, then add the Shaoxing wine, both soy sauces and the sugar, stir and put to one side.

Once youve pressed all the water from your tofu, cut it into 1.5cm slices. In your widest nonstick pan for which you have a lid, heat two tablespoons of oil over a medium heat and, when very hot, add the tofu slices in a single layer. Leave to fry for three to five minutes, until golden then flip over with a spatula and fry the other side. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

In the same pan, on a medium to high heat (add a little extra oil, if need be) and, when hot, add the ginger, garlic, spring onions and chillies and fry for about four minutes, until fragrant. Turn down the heat, then add the cornflour and soy sauce mixture, the sliced mushrooms and their reserved stock (save for the final teaspoon or two, which may contain some grit), and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then return the tofu slices to one side of the pan and put the shredded pak choi on the other side. Cover the pan, leave for five minutes until the tofu is hot and the greens tender, then take off the heat. Distribute across four plates and serve with freshly steamed or boiled rice.

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Pakistan sees its face in the mirror and doesnt like what it sees – The Indian Express

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Written by Khaled Ahmed | Updated: September 12, 2020 9:20:49 am Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan. (Reuters Photo/File)

Pratap Bhanu Mehta recently (Simply Vishwas, IE, August 26) wrote: Politics of belief (vishwas) is different from one based on fact and interest. It has an underlying cultural nihilism. In Pakistan, it has an association with ideology serving as the foundation of the Islamic State.

The word ideologie came into use during the French Revolution and postulated a sure and encyclopaedic form of knowledge upon which social engineering could be based. Ideology came on the scene as a champion of Enlightenment and rival of religion, but it soon acquired the status of a dogma. The principal voice of the ideologues and author of Elements dIdeologie, Antoine Destutt de Tracy (1754-1836), spoke frankly of regulating society.

Most ideologues possess a kind of certitude, not just that utopia can be built but that it is destined to be built. Nothing promotes aggression more than certitude. Yet, a fatalistic trust in the tide of history and the ideological frame of mind go together. However, history cannot be left alone to unfold the passionate intensity (W B Yeats) of ideology craves movement and deeds. It has been said that ideology is the transformation of ideas into social levers. During the month of fasting this year, ideology and its certitude once again threaten Pakistan with violence. Mehtas vishwas may be linked to certitude and consequent aggression.

The founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, did use the word ideology once or twice during the Pakistan Movement, but it was in the Western liberal sense. The USSR had an ideology which was fixed. If you opposed Soviet ideology you could go to jail. In Iran, there is an ideology which no one can oppose. The only difference is that in Iran it can be done in the detail but not in principle.

In the USSR, the Communist Party looked after ideology. In Iran, the clergy appointed by the constitution does the same job. In Pakistan, ideology gained respect after 1947 and some of it, it must be confessed, came from the USSR and its great economic achievement. India was democratic. Pakistan was ideological. India was an ordinary concept as a state. Pakistan was something special. The Left thought ideological meant socialism. The Right thought it meant Islam. The utopia of the Right was falahi (welfare) state, somewhat akin to the communist utopia. Today, Imran Khan calls it the State of Madina.

Opinion | Rajmohan Gandhi writes: Amicable relations with Pakistan may seem remote but they are worth striving for

All politicians in Pakistan proudly claim to be nazriati (ideological). It can mean principled, but it also points to an Islamic utopia. Pakistan has tried to define this utopia. But under General Ziaul Haq, a committee called Ansari Commission said Islam did not allow opposition. So, the general had a non-party election and there was no opposition in parliament. It was clear that Pakistan did not equate ideology with democracy. There is a Federal Shariat Court in Islamabad to make sure everything happens in Pakistan according to Islam. That is very much like ideology.

The clerical view is that the Pakistani utopia should be recreated in the light of the sharia, which also includes the fiqh (case law) of the medieval jurists of Islam. Alas, in the eyes of the clergy, the state remains incompletely ideological and, therefore, an unhappy state. It is a small island on which the non-clerical Right and a minuscule Left are surviving in Pakistan. Needless to say, the clerics are unhappy and denounce the state.

Muslims who want to be modern-Islamic are unhappy because the state cant move quickly enough to assimilate the new universalism. Muslims who want the state to be perfectly Islamic are unhappy with it for being tardy in rejecting modernity. You have to be a good Pakistani. That means you have to love the idea of Pakistan as a state that lives separated from India.

If you imply that Pakistan is not separate from India or that it should re-join it, you go in for rigorous imprisonment. This is a special shibboleth. An American can say America should join China and still be free. But in Pakistan, you can be hauled up for implying Pakistans un-separateness.

Ideology interfaces with nationalism. Ideology remains Islam, but dont ask to go into details. Pakistan is unhappy because of the inclusive constitutional principle of nothing repugnant to Islam. Pakistan is liveable today for some because it is insufficiently ideological. For some, this incompleteness is a source of unhappiness. Its constitution seems to promise two contradictory things at the same time. No one is really reconciled to the state as it is. Those not reconciled are all good Pakistanis or Muslims, but they may not consider each other good Pakistanis or Muslims.

The acme of nationalism is fascism, which then becomes ideology. Ideology, because of its utopian control, also aspires to fascism. Stalin fought against fascism but then created an ideological state, which was not much different from Hitlers Germany. Pakistan is like Caliban. It sees its face in the mirror and doesnt like what it sees.

This article first appeared in the print edition on September 12, 2020 under the title Divided by ideology. The writer is consulting editor, Newsweek Pakistan.

The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines

For all the latest Opinion News, download Indian Express App.

The Indian Express (P) Ltd

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When Monuments Fall | by Kenan Malik – The New York Review of Books

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Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images Protesters for and against the removal of the Emancipation Memorial arguing as workers install a fence to protect the monument in Lincoln Park, Washington, D.C., June 25, 2020

We stand today at the national center to perform something like a national actan act which is to go into history.

So said the great nineteenth-century former slave and staunch abolitionist Frederick Douglass at the unveiling of the Emancipation Memorial in Lincoln Park, Washington, D.C., in 1876. That we are here in peace today, Douglass told a crowd of almost 25,000, many of them African-American, is a compliment and a credit to American civilization, and a prophecy of still greater national enlightenment and progress in the future.

The idea for the memorial had come originally from former slave Charlotte Scott, of Virginia, who wanted a monument in honor of Abraham Lincoln. She gave five dollars to begin a funding drive, and the monument was eventually paid for entirely by former slaves.

Almost a hundred and fifty years later, many African Americans feel differently about the memorial. In June, Black Lives Matter protesters attempted, unsuccessfully, to topple the statue. D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton vowed to introduce legislation to have the memorial removed. The Boston Art Commission unanimously resolved to take down a copy of the statue in Boston.

Some critics of the statue view Lincoln as a false friend of African Americans. Others see the statue itself as demeaning, with Lincoln represented as standing upright, while the free black man is on his knees. For defenders of the statue, on the other hand, to remove it is to erase a memorial paid for by former slaves and anointed by Douglass. It is to besmirch black history itself.

What is striking in this contemporary debate is that there is nothing new about it. It goes back to the very creation of the monument. Douglass, even in his dedication speech, expressed his ambivalence about Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln was not, he observed, in the fullest sense of the word, either our man or our model. In his interests, in his associations, in his habits of thought, and in his prejudices, he was a white man. He continued:

To protect, defend, and perpetuate slavery in the states where it existed, Abraham Lincoln was not less ready than any other President to draw the sword of the nation. He was ready to execute all the supposed guarantees of the United States Constitution in favor of the slave system anywhere inside the slave states. He was willing to pursue, recapture, and send back the fugitive slave to his master, and to suppress a slave rising for liberty, though his guilty master were already in arms against the Government.

And yet, he acknowledged, while Abraham Lincoln saved for you a country, he delivered us from a bondage, according to Jefferson, one hour of which was worse than ages of the oppression your fathers rose in rebellion to oppose.

Todays controversies over statues of racists and slave owners have a more recent backstory, too. In March 2015, a South African activist named Chumani Maxwele smeared excrement on a statue of Cecil Rhodes at the University of Cape Town. So began the Rhodes Must Fall campaign. The following month, the university authorities removed the statue. Rhodes Must Fall became an international cause and popular Twitter hashtag. The campaign took root most notably in Oxford, Britain, where another statue of Rhodes had stood for over a century, above an entrance to Oriel College, to which he left 100,000 in his will.

A parallel campaign developed meanwhile against Confederate statues in the US. While there have long been campaigns against such memorials, the moves to take them down acquired a new intensity after the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville in 2017. That year, thirty-six Confederate monuments were removed. This year, amid the rekindled Black Lives Matter protests that erupted after the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota in May, another thirty at least have come down.

As the protests went global, demonstrators in Bristol, England, toppled a statue of a slave trader named Edward Colston and dumped it in the docks. That acted as a catalyst for the release of pent-up fury: the following day, in London, the statue of slave trader Robert Milligan was removed from outside the Museum of London Docklands by the public trust responsible for the site. Then protests erupted in Belgium, where statues of King Leopold II, under whose rule the Congo had been turned into a brutal slave camp in the late nineteenth century, were defaced and taken down. This wave of iconoclasm moved again back across the Atlantic, where not just Confederate memorials but statues of Columbus, Jefferson, Washington, and others were toppled.

At the heart of all this lie two fundamental questions: What do statues, and their removal, tell us about the pastand the present? And what do the campaigns against statues tell us about the struggle to confront racism?

Critics of the toppling campaigns condemn what they regard as the rewriting of history. After demands for the removal of a statue of Winston Churchill in Parliament Square, British Prime Minister Boris Johnsonhimself a biographer of Churchilltweeted: We cannot now try to edit or censor our past. We cannot pretend to have a different history. To remove statues would be to lie about our history, and impoverish the education of generations to come, he said.

The British-based American historian Christopher Phelps rejects such claims, arguing that removing statues is little different from the normal practice of history. To reconsider, to recast, is the essence of historical practice, he wrote in The Chronicle of Higher Education in January. It follows that altering how we present the past through commemorative symbols is not ahistorical. It is akin to what historians do. Removing statues does not vitiate history, he insisted; on the contrary, it represents a more thorough coming to terms with the past and its legacies, a refusal to forget.

Statues are rarely about history as such; they are about memory. That is, they are part of the process of shaping perceptions of history. That is why they have long been sites of contestation, and not just in the present.


The story of Edward Colstons statue in Bristol highlights the way that statues make concreteor marble or bronze, so to speakthe attempt to memorialize a particular historical narrative. Colston was a Bristol-born merchant who made his fortune in large part from the slave trade. Upon his death, he left much of his wealth to charities.

The statue of Colston was not erected, however, during his lifetime. Nor even in the aftermath of his death. It was put up almost two centuries after he had died. And that memorialization had less to do with Colston himself than with fears about growing class tensions in Bristol. In the 1890s, there was in Bristol, as elsewhere in industrial Britain, considerable working-class discontent and union agitation. More than a decade of economic recession, low wages, and poor working conditions, combined with continued disenfranchisement of large sections of the working class, led to waves of strikes and a series of bloody confrontations between workers and police.

Against this background of escalating strife, city leaders, both in politics and business, decided to erect a statue of a philanthropic businessman to act as a symbol of civic pride. Various names were proffered as suitable candidates. Bristols elite settled on Colston. His involvement in slavery was seen not as a matter of shame but almost as a badge of pride at a time that saw the emergence of a new age of high imperialism, exemplified by the Scramble for Africa in the final decades of the nineteenth century. This was a period, too, in which the notion of the racial superiority of the British people evolved from being an elite ideology to become part of patriotic popular culture, celebrated in mass circulation newspapers, penny-dreadful novels, and popular entertainment. For Bristols ruling class, Colstons statue was an attempt to use myths of Britains racial superiority to defuse disaffection at home.

Confederate statues in America served a different political purpose, but they were equally about ransacking the past to serve the needs of the present. There are, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, 780 Confederate monuments or statues in the US, almost half of which are in three states: Georgia, Virginia, and North Carolina. Most of these monuments were erected not in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War, which ended in 1865, but between the 1890s and the 1950s, the era of Jim Crow segregation. Most were, in fact, installed in the first two decades of the twentieth century, when the Jim Crow system was still being established in the American South. There was a smaller spike in the 1950s and 1960s, as part of the backlash against the civil rights movement and desegregation.

Maryland remained in the Union during the Civil War. While it was a slave stateboth Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman were born into slavery in Marylandalmost half of African Americans in the state were free, and it boasted the largest number of free blacks in any US state. Thousands of Marylanders fought for the Confederacy, but almost three times as many took up arms for the Union. In the twentieth century, however, three Confederate statues were erected in Baltimore, the states most important city, including one honoring Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson built as late as 1948. They were not commemorating the history of Maryland, or of the Civil War, but rewriting the history of the war as a just and moral struggle, to justify the present-day denial of rights to African Americans as also just and moral.

What statues of Colston and Lincoln, of Churchill and Lee, tell us, then, is less about these figures themselves than about how later generations wanted to retell their stories in a way that buttressed the demands and desires of a particular elite. The fact that statues are not straightforward expressions of history, but ways of shaping memory, is not, though, an argument that necessarily makes their removal more valid. The arguments for taking down statues are often as ragged as those for retaining them.

Histories and biographies are both complex narratives, rarely cleaving to good and bad. On both sides of the statue debate, there is a reluctance to acknowledge that complexity, and a tendency to look only upon one aspect of a historical figure, whether good or bad, and to make that the only issue worth discussing. Figures such as Churchill or Jefferson have long been celebrated for their great deeds, while their despicable acts or immoral views were overlooked or ignored. Many in Britain have still not heard of the Bengal Famine, or of Churchills role in it, or know little of the brutal reality of the British Empire. More people in America probably know of Jeffersons slaveholding, but until recently, it has barely figured in national discussions.

National and imperial history has long been whitewashed, and the sordid, immoral aspects of the lives of revered historical figures have often been airbrushed. That does not mean, however, that critics of such history should themselves adopt a one-eyed viewthat we should damn Churchill or Jefferson for the deplorable aspects of their lives or views without also considering either the historical context or their other qualities that might make them historically significant.

Even those usually seen as progressive figures often held deeply regressive attitudes. William Wilberforce, for instance, is generally celebrated for his campaigning against slavery, yet he was also hostile to working-class suffrage and believed that trade unions should be suppressed. Leading Suffragettes such as Emmeline Pankhurst supported eugenics. Gandhi expressed racist views about black Africans during his early career in South Africa: because of this, a statue of him was removed from the University of Accra, in Ghana, in 2018, and there have been calls for another statue of him to be removed from Leicester, England, and for one not be erected in Manchester. The demand that we should only celebrate or honor those without moral stain is a demand for a fantasy world expunged of all moral complexity.

There is nothing wrong in principle in removing statues: icons are created, icons are torn downthis has happened throughout history. Moral complexity may be an argument against unthinking iconoclasm. It is not, however, an argument for never taking down statues. What we should avoid, though, is mirroring the kind of cartoonish history embodied in many of these statues by viewing them as tropes for good and bad. No human is entirely saintly; few are without redeeming qualities. There can be no hard and fast rules to justify iconoclasm, only judgments.

Some contemporary iconoclasts argue that they are not interested in parsing the character of historical figures, but simply want to redefine how we view history. The toppling of statues is a symbolic act of destruction to liberate the past from the control of the powerful, and to begin rethinking it from the point of view of the ruled and the vanquished, not through the eyes of victors.

There is, though, no single way of rethinking history from the point of view of the ruled and the vanquished. The historical significance of the American Revolution, the legacy of the American Civil War, Gandhis social attitudesall are matters of fierce debate, not just between the powerful and the masses, but among the ruled and the vanquished, too. Those debates demand a more nuanced view of history and biography; to balance, as Douglass does, Lincolns willingness to protect, defend, and perpetuate slavery in the states where it existed with his leadership in the Civil War, not to ignore Jeffersons slaveholding and attitudes to black people but equally not to forget the part he played in the Revolution, to acknowledge both Gandhis racist views of black Africans and his accomplishments in the struggle for Indian independence. Not to do soto focus solely on Jeffersons slaveholding, say, or on Gandhis racismwould be to mimic the actions of those who first erected statues as a means of imposing their stamp on historical memory.

This is not an argument for moral relativism. It is possible and necessary to distinguish between historical figures defined predominantly by their racism or their slaveholding, or those whose statues were constructed primarily as a way of intimidating certain groups, from others whose lives are more variegated, in part to be deprecated, in part to be honored. This is a way of making a distinction between the memorialization of Colston and Lee, say, and that of Jefferson and Gandhi. At the very least, this offers a way of opening up public debate on these issues rather than shutting it down by insisting on a singular view of the past.

Of course, coming to some consensus on such issues is not easy. In Bristol, for instance, there had earlier been an acceptance that the best solution to the Colston statue might be to leave it standing but replace the plaque with one that gave a fuller, more critical account of his life. There were, though, fierce disagreements over what the new plaque should say. In the end, the protesters made their own decision, foreclosing that debate.

Most statues were erected on the say-so of a particular elite to promote a self-serving historical narrative. What we should be wary of, now, is for any decision to be taken by a backroom committee, or by a government body, or even by a single group of protesters. Deciding what to do with those statues now should not be the work of any group that might represent only a small part of the community. That would merely be to replace the wishes of a historical elite with those of an equally unrepresentative contemporary group.


The second question at the heart of contemporary iconoclasm concerns what these campaigns tell us about the struggle to confront racism. There are two main arguments about why the removal of statues of racists or slavers may be a necessary part of the battle against racism. First, that statues of racists or enslavers or colonizers are demeaning or hurtful to black people and other marginalized groups, who cannot feel they truly belong in a society that maintains such symbols of degradation. And second, that statues express the values of a society. Any society that takes seriously its disavowal of racism must, iconoclasts argue, also remove any symbols or embodiments of such racism.

It is not difficult to see why a statue of Rhodes in South Africa might cause anger, nor why African Americans might resent Confederate statues designed to symbolize the enforcement of white supremacy. And yet, we should be careful about pushing this argument too far. There is a danger of slipping from the rightful claim that certain monuments or forms of social symbolism can create unwelcoming environments for marginalized people into an assumption that black people are psychologically fragile, replacing a language of resilience and rights with one of traumathat, as one supporter of the #Rhodesmustfall campaign claimed, seeing Rhodes so recognised is a deep wound.

Certainly, the past shapes the present and history can mold our emotions. But marginalized groups are not trapped by their history; nor is that history the cause of unending psychological trauma. It would be disastrous if anti-racists today were led to argue so, or to invest the past with too great a power over the present.

Monuments, it is true, are designed to shape memory and to use the past to engage in the struggles of the present. But this should not lead inevitably to the conclusion that statues embodying values no longer held by society should come down.

All history is a conversation between the present and the past. Over time, that conversation necessarily changes, as the figures and events that we regard as significant, and the reasons for viewing them as significant, change. And as the conversation changes, so does the meaning of statues (or any cultural artifact, whether literary, musical, or architectural). Its not just that historical research may unearth new facts about the lives of Colston or Rhodes or Jefferson; its also that the meaning we attribute to those facts shifts.

From this perspective, statues of Colston or Rhodes or Jefferson tell us not just that these men were racists or imperialists or slaveholders, but also how far we have moved from the days in which our societies celebrated racists or imperialists or slavery. The very fact that we are having this debate is a demonstration of that distance. The issue is as much about how we read statues and monuments as about what is symbolically written into them.

Traditionally, most forms of iconoclasm occur either because rulers are trying to shore up their own power by expunging rivals from the record or because the masses have moved to overthrow an old regime. The earliest recorded case of someone being physically anulled from the historical record is probably that of Hatshepsut, a female pharaoh in the fifteenth century BCE. Her successor, Thutmose III, attempted to erase her from public memory by ordering her statues to be torn down and her image to be chiseled off stone walls. In modern times, from the French Revolution to the dismantling of the Soviet empire, statues have often been toppled en masse by popular outrage upon the removal of a reviled regime.

Todays iconoclasm is different, falling into neither of these traditional categories. Rather, the taking down of statues has become a goal in itself, as an act of social transformation. The danger arises if the symbolic act comes to replace material change. The South African activist Siya Mnyanda, a former student at the University of Cape Town, wrote in 2015 wishing that the same amount of energy that has been used to campaign for #Rhodesmustfall had been expended on fighting for a more just and sound education system, better access to student funding and the building of more universities promised by the government. Dena Latif, a black student at Oxford University, has similarly argued that the campaign became a form of displacement: My problem with it lies in the use of an old statue as a symbol of Oxfords racism. Why do people have to look 150 years into the past to see the issue? The American historian Cheryl Hudson insists that Campaigners are deluding themselves if they think that removing a flag or statue will make any difference to inequalities of race, class or gender.

The debate over statuesand the wider debates around the Black Lives Matter movementhave thrust the issue of our relationship to history into public consciousness. We should seize this moment to think more deeply about the complexities of the past that have shaped the present. To recognize, for instance, that the Enlightenment was crucial to the development of progressive social ideals, laying the ground for modern ideas of equality and liberty, but also that, through slavery and colonialism, these ideals were denied to the majority of people across the globe, and their lives were often ripped apart in the most grotesque ways, and their societies degraded. To recognize, too, that the same historical figuressuch as Locke, Jefferson, Pankhurstcould stand on both sides of this equation.

Perhaps the best way to express the changing attitudes toward the past is not necessarily to tear down statues, but to put up new ones that allow us to acknowledge the complexities of history. Frederick Douglass himself was of this view. Days after he had spoken at the dedication of the Emancipation Memorial in Lincoln Park, he wrote a letteronly recently unearthedto the National Republican newspaper. In it, he aired his own misgivings about that statue. The negro here, though rising, is still on his knees and nude, he wrote. Douglass went on to suggest that there was room for another memorial in Lincoln Park:

What I want to see before I die is a monument representing the negro, not couchant on his knees like a four-footed animal, but erect on his feet like a man.

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