Speechless

December 11, 2006


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Somewhere on the Pacific a small lifeboat shared by two unwilling and unlikely passengers rolled with the waves. Pi knew he could do more than just survive once he realized that Richard was dependent on him. Pi could fish. A Bengal Tiger, king of his own ecosystem, would die at sea without the help of the seventeen-year-old. The book really ended there; it didn’t matter after that what was truth or fiction. Pi’s understanding of power in everyday life was his new reality.

Speechless refers to both the writer and reader. At one level it’s about a writers’ block being blogged. At another level is refers to deafening silence that occurs when one speaks with too much feeling or mentions an uncomfortable idea in a nice place, a unpleasant reminder in polite company, a divergent idea in a space of group think, another perspective than the Renaissance perspective. But it also refers to robust conversations among political philosophers who understand the power of language and everyday life. Socrates, Plato, Derrida called for renewals in philosophy. They examined what we do with words, the role of memory. Speechless alludes to Derrida’s urgent appeal for a renewed democracy, for a revitalized philosophy from a cosmopolitical point of view.

The human eye can distinguish 16 values of grey but that’s not including the subtle differences in the colours of grey. We just don’t have the time to see the variations.

I began speechless on October 16, 2006. Two months later I have learned what a permalink is and how to make one. It’s the equivalent to the old web page’s index.html. Now I have to learn where to use it.

https://oceanflynn.wordpress.com/index.php/2006/12/11/speechless

The cloud of tags below has grown organically since I first began using WordPress as my main blog host on October 16, 2006. I am building my customized clouds of folksonomies by working on and learning from a number of Web 2.0 feeds. This includes a Flickr account for photo blogging which attracts alot of viewers. I have only a couple of dozen images but one image alone uploaded on October 22, 2006 was viewed 1,179 times over a period of 64 days! I reworked this image again and posted it on speechless under “Wave Algorithms.”

Featured folksonomy:

Benign colonialism is a term that refers to an alleged form of colonialism in which benefits outweighed risks for indigenous population whose lands, resources, rights and freedoms were preempted by a colonizing nation-state. The historical source for the concept of benign colonialism resides with John Stuart Mills who was chief examiner of the British East India Company dealing with British interests in India in the 1820s and 1830s. Mills most well-known essays (1844) on benign colonialism are found in Essays on some Unsettled Questions of Political Economy. Mills’ view contrasted with Burkean orientalists. Mills promoted the training of a corps of bureaucrats indigenous to India who could adopt the modern liberal perspective and values of 19th century Britain. Mills predicted this group’s eventual governance of India would be based on British values and perspectives. Those who adopt benign colonialism as a truth claim argue that education, health, housing and employment possibilities improved conditions for indigenous peoples as settlers, merchants and administrators also brought new industries, liberal markets, developed natural resources and introduced improved governance. The first wave of benign colonialism lasted from c. 1790s-1960s. The second wave included new colonial policies such as exemplified in Hong Kong (Liu 2003)), where unfettered expansion of the market created a new form of benign colonialism. Political interference and military interference (Doyle 2006) in independent nation-states, such as Iraq (Campo 2004 ), is also discussed under the rubric of benign colonialism in which a foreign power preempts national governance to protect a higher concept of freedom. The term is also used in the 21st century to refer to American, French and Chinese market activities in countries on the African continent with massive quantities of underdeveloped nonrenewable envied resources. Literature that challenges the assumptions of benign colonialism claiming colonialist project as it actually unfolded placed First Nations, Inuit and Métis at higher risks of vulnerabilities to catastrophes, to social exclusion and human rights abuses, have not been as widely publicized.

For more see Flynn-Burhoe (2007).

There is a widespread Canadian mythology that First Nations, Inuit and Métis are among those who benefited from settler colonies prempting, improving, managing and governing aboriginal lands, resources and educating, training, developing, serving, monitoring and governing its peoples. Those who adopt benign colonialism as a truth claim argue that education, health, housing and employment possibilities improved conditions for the indigenous peoples since the arrival of settlers. Literature that challenges the assumptions of benign colonialism claiming colonialist project as it actually unfolded placed First Nations, Inuit and Métis at higher risks of vulnerabilities to catastrophes, to social exclusion and human rights abuses, have not been as widely publicized. The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) addressed these claims but the term benign colonialism is still a convenient truth for many. Celebratory and one-sided social histories of the Hudson’s Bay Company, the RCMP, and various government leaders such as John A. MacDonald or civil servants such as Indian Agents, northern adventurers, when viewed through the lens of settlers while ignoring the perspective of First Nations, Inuit and Métis contribute to on-going dissemination of distorted histories. Museums, maps and census contribute to these distorted histories by grave omissions.

Related citations:

“Today, Mill’s most controversial case would be benign colonialism. His principles of nonintervention only hold among “civilized” nations. “Uncivilized” peoples, among whom Mill dumps most of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, are not fit for the principle of nonintervention. Like Oude (in India), they suffer four debilitating infirmities – despotism, anarchy, amoral presentism and familism — that make them incapable of self-determination. The people are imposed upon by a “despot… so oppressive and extortionate as to devastate the country.” Despotism long endured has produced “such a state of nerveless imbecility that everyone subject to their will, who had not the means of defending himself by his own armed followers, was the prey of anybody who had a band of ruffians in his pay.” The people as a result deteriorate into amoral relations in which the present overwhelms the future and no contracts can be relied upon. Moral duties extend no further than the family; national or civic identity is altogether absent. In these circumstances, Mill claims, benign colonialism is best for the population . Normal relations cannot be maintained in such an anarchic and lawless environment. It is important to note that Mill advocates neither exploitation nor racialist domination. He applies the same reasoning to once primitive northern Europeans who benefited from the imperial rule imposed by civilized Romans. The duties of paternal care, moreover, are real, precluding oppression and exploitation and requiring care and education designed to one day fit the colonized people for independent national existence. Nonetheless, the argument also rests on (wildly distorted) readings of the history and culture of Africa and Asia and Latin America. Anarchy and despotic oppression did afflict many of the peoples in these regions, but ancient cultures embodying deep senses of social obligation made nonsense of presentism and familism. Shorn of its cultural “Orientalism,” Mill’s argument for trusteeship addresses one serious gap in our strategies of humanitarian assistance: the devastations that cannot be readily redressed by a quick intervention designed to liberate an oppressed people from the clutches of foreign oppression or a domestic despot. But how does one prevent benign trusteeship from becoming malign imperialism, particularly when one recalls the flowery words and humanitarian intentions that accompanied the conquerors of Africa? How far is it from the Anti-Slavery Campaign and the Aborigine Rights Protection Society to King Leopold’s Congo and Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness”?

Here Doyle is referring to John S. Mill cited in “A Few Words on Nonintervention.” . 1973. In Essays on Politics and Culture, edited by Gertrude Himmelfarb, 368-84. Gloucester, Peter Smith.

See also WordPress featured blogs Benign colonialism.

Related tags: Tom Kent Royal Commission on Newspapers, Hackett and Zhao, economic efficiency, Power and everyday life, ethical topography of self and the Other, teaching learning and research, wealth disparities will intensify, C.D. Howe, Cannibals with Forks.Selected annotated webliography

Campo, Juan E.  2004. “Benign Colonialism? The Iraq War: Hidden Agendas and Babylonian Intrigue.” Interventionism. 26:1. Spring.

Doyle, Michael W.  2006. “Sovereignty and Humanitarian Military Intervention.” Hoover Institute.

Falk, Richard. Human Rights Horizons: the Pursuit of Justice in a Globalizing World. New York & London: Routledge.

Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007. Benign colonialism. >> Speechless. Uploaded January 14th, 2007

Liu, Henry C. K. “China: a Case of Self-Delusion: Part 1: From colonialism to confusionLiu 2003.” Asia Times. May 14, 2003.

Kurtz,Stanley. 2003.”Lessons from the British in India.” Democratic Imperialism: A Blueprint. Policy Review.Mill, John Stuart. 1844. Essays on some Unsettled Questions of Political Economy.
Of these Essays, which were written in 1829 and 1830,

Current debates on colonization and human rights (Falk 2000) raise questions about the notion of benign colonialism. The dominant language, culture and values of colonizers imposed on colonised peoples is often narrated as salutary. Dominant social and cultural institutions contributed to faciliating the entry of indigenous peoples trapped in unsustainable subsistence economies. Previously colonised peoples claim that the colonization process resulted in a parallel process of the colonization of the minds of indigenous peoples. The process of decolonization of memory (Ricoeur 1980), history and the spirit is crucial for the social inclusion (OECD) of indigenous peoples and nations within nations, such as Canada.

 


Anna Packwood's guests at her 100th birthday celebration at the NGC

In the 1998 Anna Packwood’s family and friends came from across continents to celebrate her 100th birthday. This was the culmination of research on the Positive Presence of Absence: a history of the African Canadian community through works in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada. I can honestly say that of the ten years working at the NGC, this impromptu gathering — which almost did not happen because of security concerns over the large numbers and the last-minute arrangements — this was the high point of a decade of work there. The National Gallery of Canada now presents six images in their African Canadian section which the portrait bust of Tommy Simmons on their educational web site entitled Cybermuse.

One of the catalysts for my research in the early 1990s was a conversation with Fritz Benjamin, a Haitian-Canadian who was working at that time as a security guard. He asked me who Tommy Simmons was, the man portrayed in the larger than life bronze bust prominently displayed in the water court. I didn’t know but once I started looking there were more questions about more works of art. After sharing my interests with Mairuth Sarsfield, author of No Crystal Stairs and her sister Lucille Vaughan-Cuevas they became my mentors. Lucille in particular spent hours with me clarifying histories. I eventually met other members of the Montreal community and wove various fragments together so I could present this walking tour to friends, then to fellow graduate students and finally to the public. It was a personal project that the Gallery promoted from 1995-1997 when they advertised it and offered it as a contract tour.

The image is my first experiment in using Adobe Photoshop to create transparent .png images. I needed to learn .png for my new Google Earth community.

The Adobe Photoshop layers include Anna Packwood on the lower left, with a bronze of her daughter, Lucille Vaughan, an activist, educator and librarian. Beside them is Dr. Carrie Best, pioneer Nova Scotia journalist, activist and author. To the right of the water court is Jennifer Hodge Sarsfield, Anna Packwood’s granddaughter ,a pioneer in Canadian film narratology and beside her is the cover of Mairuth Sarsfield’s book entitled No Crystal Stairs, which was on the short list for Canada Reads filmmaker. A photograph taken in that part of Montreal Mairuth called ‘burgundy city’ shows Mairuth, Susan and Lucille, Anna Packwoods, daughters in the 1940? The collage of the family and friends from across the States, Canada and the Caribbean wasn’t large enough to include them all.

I wrote this in a May 3, 1998 thank you note to NGC Education Division Director, Mary Ellen Herbert, CC: Judith Parker, Mairuth Sarsfield.

After the luncheon celebration with Anne Packwood, about fifty of the invited guests came to the NGC. It was larger than anticipated but it was a huge success. Among the guests were Dr. Carrie Best, OC., Lucille Vaughan-Cuevas, Dominique Sarsfield, numerous friends of Anne Packwood from many different parts of Canada from Edmonton, Dartmouth, and of course, Montreal. There were guests from the United States and from Bermuda. The group included four or five elderly people in wheelchairs, a baby in a carriage, children of all ages. After a warm greeting under the Water Court we went to the Seminar Room. I showed about a dozen slides of the Picasso exhibition and a few of Orson Wheeler’s sculptures: Tommy Simmons and Lucille Vaughan-Cuevas. The group applauded warmly when they saw the bust of Lucille. Then we went to the Water Court to see Tommy Simmons. The discussion there is something I wish I had on tape. Many at first did not recognize the model by name or by the sculpted bust. But as we talked more and more people remembered something about him. One woman had babysat his children. Another played on teams that competed with his. Another told me of a Wheeler sculpture of an African Canadian model once owned by David? States. An artist from Detroit was excited by what could be done in galleries and plans on following up when she gets home. I invited Lucille to speak about her experience as Wheeler’s model for the 1950′s bust. It was captivating listening to her describe Wheeler’s special qualities as educator and artist. She had been particularly touched by his openness to Black history at that time. This experience was a highlight for me in my years at the NGC.

In the 1920’s awareness of black culture spread from Harlem in New York across the continent and the ocean. During this Renaissance African American arts and literature reached new pinnacles of celebrity. Marcus Garvey, Paul Robeson, Langston Hughes, Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong inspired Canadians. Visual artists in Canada attempted to reverse negative stereotypes of black subjects. This sculpture of Tommy Simmons, which celebrates both his blackness and his individuality, gave the emerging artist Orson Wheeler a sense of accomplishment. Simmons was a Montreal sleeping car porter for forty-three years. Work conditions were difficult. The transcontinental trips meant days away from home. Severe employment limitations were placed on black workers. Many, including those with higher education, even doctors and lawyers, were obliged to become porters. Sleeping car porters became the economic elite and catalysts of change in African Canadian communities. Tommy Simmons was a dedicated coach of winning teams. His integrated baseball teams which included girls of African, French and Italian descent, were unprecedented in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Because he was bilingual he entered tournaments in French and English communities from Chicoutimi, Québec to St. John, N.B. [Interviews with Carl Simmons and B. Jones, 1995]


a showboat’s journey on the Mississippi

1812 One of the most powerful earthquakes to hit North American, struck New Madrid, Missouri temporarily reversing the flow of the mighty Mississippi according to a riverlorian.

1831 First show boat William Chapman

1863 President Lincoln, after two years of civil war declared the Emancipation Proclamation freeing American slaves.

1865-77 Reconstruction period: The period after the Civil War and the abolition of slavery.

1870 Fifteenth Amendment gave Black people the right to vote.

1880s and 1890s Fear of Black’s political power led to lynchings…

1883 Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi

1889 Chapter One of Ferber’s novel Show Boat opens on an April morning in Natchez, Mississippi. Natchez is south of Cairo where Kentucky, Illinois and Missouri come together. It takes place over a 43 year period.

1893 Chicago World’s Fair World’s Columbian Exposition.

1896 Ziegfeld met actress, Anna Held in London. She encouraged him to develop a show similar to the Paris revue, the Folies-Bergére.

1907 First Ziegfeld revue, the Follies of 1907, opened at the New York Theatre. It was the first of a series of long-running musicals that transformed musical theatre. His musical revues combined beautiful, but scantily clad chorus girls and showgirls with good legs, comedians, innovative and extravagant staging. He spared no expense in hiring the best actors, singers, comedians, composers, lyricists, costumers and set designers.

1909 W.E.B. Du Bois, the first black man to earn a Phd from Harvard University called for the creation of a black encyclopedia.

1912, 1914 and 1919 Ziegfield Follies.

1918 Blacks who had served in WWI ideas and scholarship challenged theories of racial determinism and supremacy.

1918 Blacks who had served in WWI ideas and scholarship challenged theories of racial determinism and supremacy.

1920s Harlem Renaissance, Langston Hughes, Arna Bobtemps, Claude McKay, Countee Cullen, Zora Neale Hurston, Jean Toomer.

1920s Romantic cynicism replaces 19th century idealism?

1922 George Gershwin’s wrote Blue Monday an opera about Harlem. Blue Monday was orchestrated by Will Vodery, “a prominent Negro musician of the time who worked as an orchestrator for Ziegfeld’s follies and an accomplished conductor.” (Crouch, Stanley (1999) “An Inspired Borrower of a Black Tradition” (NYTimes) January 1999.)

1926 Jerome Kern gets stage rights to Edna Ferber’s Show Boat. He collaborates with Oscar Hammerstein II to write a musical comedy.

1926 Twenty six lynchings in the south.

1927 The original production of Show Boat produced by Ziegfeld opened in December, 1927 at the Ziegfeld Theatre. It was the first great modern musical. It ran for 572 performances. “It was the second longest running musical of the 1920s.” The music was written by? Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II (uncredited?). Tess Gardella plays Queenie.

1928 – 1929 Show Boat opens May 3, 1928 at the Drury Lane Theatre, London, England and plays 572 performances. It was directed by Felix Edwardes. Paul Robeson as Joe becomes the star of the musical.

1929 Stock market crash. The Depression struck.

1929 May 5 Universal Studios film version of Show Boat is released.

1931 The Ziegfeld Girl: Alvina Casucci, danced on Broadway for ten years during the Depression with Ginger Rogers and Milton Birle. She danced nude as a mermaid 1931 Ziegfeld Follies. Ziegfeld lost his personal fortune through massive gambling debts and Wall Street losses. (Kreuger :99) Ziegfeld’s last show had to be financed by mobsters.

1932 The Ziegfeld revival. It was his last production. Show Boat played in New York, 180 performances at the Casino Theatre. Edna Ferber was moved by Paul Robeson, who replaced Jules Bledsoe playing Joe. The original Casino Theatre was built in exotic Moorish design in 1882. (Kreuger:101)

1936 The Great Ziegfield, a film on the life of Broadway producer, Ziegfeld, produced by Henry Blanke and British director, James Whale, received the best picture award of 1936.

1936 Universel film directed by Englishman James Whale. Musical version of Show Boat with Paul Robeson, Irene Dunne and Hattie McDaniel. The Great Depression continues.

1930s Richard Wright: Black writers.

1940 Edna Ferber writes her biography A Peculiar Treasure.

1945 MGM film production ZIEGFELD FOLLIES (1945) directed by Vincente Minnelli. With a cast of top stars:William Powell, Fred Astaire, Lucille Ball, Judy Garland, Lena Horne, Esther Williams, Red Skelton, Gene Kelly, Fanny Brice, Edward Arnold. It was the first time Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly danced together. It made over $5 million.

1945 End of WWII. Returned Black servicemen demand integration and civil rights.

1947 Broadway production of Show Boat. check date 1946?

1951 MGM Film version of Show Boat. Directed by George Sidney. Ava Gardner plays Julie. William Warfield plays Joe. The film grossed over $8 million. Frank Sinatra sang Ol’ Man River.?

1951 Till the Clouds Roll By Tony Martin as Ravenal; Julie is Lena Horne.

1954 On April 8 the New York City Opera presented Show Boat at the New York City Centre. The musical was elevated to the role of great art. (Kreuger:198)

1954 Brown vs the Board of Education ended segregation in education in the U.S.A.

1959 Film Version of Show Boat starring Ava Gardner as Julie?

1965 Assassination of Malcolm X.

1966 Stage production at the Lincoln Centre.

1960s Revivals of musicals. The era of nostalgia. (Marks 1999) NYT 99/01/24)

1960s Motown glory years.

1971 Thomas Carey in role of Joe is a sensation in London.

1987 Harold Prince revival of Cabaret.

1988 Show Boat recording with Frederica von Stade and Teresa Stratas.

1989 Livent opens The Phantom of the Opera in December. Receipts for The Phantom of the Opera were $1.5 million. Livent developed their first educational program.

1991 Livent begins to manage the Ford Centre for the Performing Arts for the North York Performing Arts Centre Corporation.

1992 The Stephen Lewis Report (anti-Black racism in Ontario).

1993 World premiere of Livent’s $10 million production Show Boat opened in October 17, 1993 at the North York. Livent, Drabinsky’s production company uses Show Boat as a teaching tool.

1995-99 Dr. Henry Louis Gates develops the CD-ROM Encarta Africana in Microsoft’s Encarta series.

1994 – 1997 The Broadway production of Livent’s Show Boat opened October 2, 1994 to ‘unanimous critical acclaim’ (www.livent.com) played 951 performances over a 27 week period. Its receipts were $100 million. It attracted 1.5 million people. It won five Tony awards including Best Revival of a Musical.

1998 Livent’s Show Boat opens in Australia.

1998 U.S. businessmen Roy Furman and Michael Ovitz take control of Livent. They file for bankruptcy protection in November. Livent Inc. last annual financial balance sheet listed total revenue of $321,092,000; a loss of -44,131,000. It’s operations were suspended in November, 1998. (Thomson Canada Ltd.)

1999 Garth Drabinsky and Myron Gottlieb, co-founders of Livent, face criminal charges in the United States. They are accused of fraud.

1999 Broadway Musical Annie Get Your Gun, the 1946 hit musical with music by Irving Berlin, is revived in a “wholesale renovation”. (Marks (1999) “Rewrite a Classic Musical?” NYT.

1999 The Mississippi: River of Song a PBS seven-part radio series on Mississippi River music. (Rogers, J.

(1999) www.ottawacitizen/990105/e010521.html)

2000 Livent’s Show Boat’s (www.livent.com) North American tour supposed to continue into 2000. It was sponsored by Canadian Airlines.

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