The wind howled and pushed against the glass of the windows. The world outside was pitch-black with faint starlight. I lit a cigarette and asked myself how I could change to keep loving her.
Image by Jake Longstreth, Vacaville, 2006. Courtesy the artist.
"She met him in New York, during her visit to her brother. I alone knew the reason for her trip and encouraged her to go as a cure from the love that had long been rooted in her soul and ended with betrayal. I had always tried to convince her that love that ends that way should not be called love at all."
ENDNOTE #4: VISUAL/CULTURE
In this installment of ENDNOTE we bring you a reading list loosely curated along the lines of creativity, class, race, and visual culture. Featuring: questions of agency surrounding the political selfie, the dangers of “do what you love,” Ciara and object fetish, the racist origin of film, and at The Toast, a coffee break with every TV show’s favorite anonymous dead girl.
1. Selfie Control, Jenna Brager, The New Inquiry
Writes Brager: “The specter of the unintentional object, particularly an object of action—the lens of a camera, a blurred hand in motion, the barrel of a gun—in conflict or atrocity photography carries the viewer’s gaze into the margins of the photograph and outside it. Who is acting in the margins? Whose gaze do we occupy?”
2. In the Name of Love, Miya Tokumitsu, Jacobin
"Do what you love" has long been the motto of America’s burgeoning, plaintively long-suffering "creative class." But how responsible is this philosophy? Tokumitsu argues it does more harm than good, especially as it falls across class divides.
3. You Are My Ducati, Andrew Durbin, Triple Canopy
"Since first listening to Ciara’s “Ride,” her 2010 chart-topper about the reversal of expectation, gender trouble loosened in the declaration that her man is her Ducati, the mobilizing object parked in the garage that begs you, slick with rain, to take him for a spin, I’ve become obsessed with the Italian motorcycle company."
4. Teaching the Camera To See My Skin, Syreeta McFadden, Buzzfeed
This essay ought to be required reading for any consumer of mass visual culture. McFadden discusses the racist origins of Kodak film and explores new ways of photographic representation with a lyrical, compassionate hand familiar with the shutter and exposure.
5. Pretty Dead Girl Takes a Break, Helen McClory, The Toast
The eeriest thing I’ve read lately. “She peels back the plastic and gets out of the water, a little clumsy with her limbs not moving right and her blue-black blood slow shot through them. She hasn’t even opened her eyes yet, they’ve been closed that long she has to pry them with thick fingers, prop them open a while, practice her blinks.”
Have any compelling, charged, or otherwise fascinating reads? Send them to us and they might end up in ENDNOTE.
—Larissa Pham, Tumblr ed.
I had never, in my whole life, been able to understand love as a sickness. Love should not destroy our dignity. Beautiful feelings should not make us hang our heads and burn our eyes with tears. When I suggested that she get rid of their pictures and letters to help her forget, she refused, saying, “I can’t shred two years of my life.”
Image by Alex Gibbs, I Know Nothing of the Illnesses I Will One Day Have, 2012. Courtesy the artist.
The Taiwanese novelist Qiu Miaojin committed suicide at twenty-six, leaving behind this story of a passionate relationship between two young women, told through a series of letters.
Image by Noah Davis, Basic Training #4, 2008.
Rubell Family Collection, Miami, FL; courtesy of Roberts & Tilton, Culver City, California
"Every Sunday, Reverend Green sang the billboard’s lyrics in a raspy baritone as he welcomed strangers to join his church family or extended a sure hand to the young on their first step toward baptism. “The Potter’s House,” his signature tune and for many the high point of church service, held within its altered chords his testimony: a man not only beaten by life, but broken by it at every juncture: boyhood without a father; manhood without a mother; and now a loss so senseless he could not think of what to call it. For the last several months, Sister LouAnne embellished the song with poignant vamps, repeating phrases on the organ to which he improvised and shared what was in his heart."
The second hit wasn’t as bad, and by the end of the joint I was used to it again. Maybe I would have been happier if I smoked more pot. Everything slowed down in a way that was very relaxing. In high school Noah would sometimes talk me into smoking up with him at night, or on the way to school in the morning. Whenever we smoked before my pre-calculus class, I felt smart. I still wouldn’t know what the numbers meant, but the board would seem organized, and the numbers would seem independent from each other, like they were each doing their own job. On those mornings I wondered if I was going to solve some problem that nobody else had ever solved in the whole history of math.
Image by Flickr via Jillian Freyer, The Ritual, 2012. Courtesy the artist.
"My mom and I were going to stop to break up with my boyfriend on our way to Emerald Isle, but the muffler fell off of my car right before we got to the exit we needed to take to Raleigh, and my mom said we couldn’t stop anymore. I was driving, and I had been waiting for this exit for three hours, since we left home. I started crying and for a while I was crying so hard, I could barely see."
Our special issue The American South is out!
Whether you’re partial to images or prose, attempt to capture the American South and you will soon find yourself deep in a thicket of contradiction. And there, not least among your struggles will be the very challenge of defining where exactly it is that you’ve wound up. When we talk about the South, are we referring to a stretch of states below the Mason-Dixon, a frame of mind, a variant of culture, or a region sill reeling from having once ardently defended Jim Crow and the “peculiar institution”? Writing in the Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, Patrick Gerster includes among the stereotypical characters we might encounter: Bible-thumping preachers haunted by God, nubile cheerleaders, demagogic politicians, corrupt sheriffs, football All-Americans with three names, and neurotic vixens with affinities for the demon rum. Add to this roster a host of poets, painters, farmers, freedom fighters, and citizens—scattered north and south—coping with the uncertainties of post-industrial America, and we may just begin to grasp this entity that remains in equal parts a place on the map and a place in the mind.
In this special issue of Guernica, the first of four made possible through your generous support to our Kickstarter campaign, we offer fresh takes on a familiar landscape, where the American South is at once a geographical distinction and a bright spot in the imagination, where burden vies with birthright, and where ignorance and renaissance exist side by side.
Image by Anthony Cudahy, Diane, 2012
"He chose a Target. When he left home he always needed to find a Target, otherwise he felt lost, would lose his bearings. Because the Target knew well where to go, while he didn’t, where could he go at this point, now that the job he’d always had was over and Renate was dead?"