Gilding came across an article on Kowloon Walled City, in Hong Kong, last night and while ruminating the things she remembered about it to her husband, she directed him to the post she was sure she made on it — only to not find it on Gilding the Lily any damn where. Was it a lost post? A subject she made note to post on but never got around to it? And while searching today for information on the city it donned on her that perhaps there was no gilded post because the subject, quite frankly, was overly posted, overly talked about, and seemed even a little too gilded already to worry about gilding any further on here.
But after reading article after article and post after bloody friekin’ blog post, Gilding had about had it with all the Western World whining about the fetid decay and inhuman living conditions of the city; its brow-beaten, finger wagged damnation of its very existence.
She had decided by that point that she wouldn’t post on this Walled City and that perhaps this current feeling of disgust, both for the city and the continued reports on it, was what had in fact prevented her original posting on it.
Then she came across this site, and it was one paragraph that caught her attention:
“U.S. News & World Report made a brief notice of the demolition of KWC a few months previous to the actual event. Their description of the city is indicative of outsider’s perceptions about a place, a place not fitting into their ideas of normal, urban living. Although their physical portrayal of the city is accurate – “alleys choked with rubbish, rat-infested alleys and dark stairwells” – the article makes judgments based on these characteristics and ignores that a thriving community survived for over half a century. In fact much of the physical problems that gave the walled city its notoriety were, and are, problems in the rest of Hong Kong (and other world cities); the walled city merely exaggerated these conditions. As KWC, in the piece, is called, “a fetid conglomeration of 359 tenement buildings…[festering] on a 7-acre plot” and, “the cancer of Kowloon” the reader has little choice but to believe the city was an unlivable slum, not a self-organized community (the former implying a second-party perpetuating bad conditions for selfish gain). For people who lived in KWC their views are different…”
The paragraph begins much the same as all the others, but it quickly points out the same thought that Gilding had on the subject — that the reports view it from the eyes of outsider, bent on its high moral views and personal comforts, but never sees beyond that to what else lies in such an environment.
Gilding encourages reading the rest of the article. While Kowloon Walled City isn’t the place she would ever want to live, the author of the site makes an admirable demonstration of the narrowmindedness demonstrated on the subject, both in example (that the rest of the country outside of the wall of KWC has areas just as impoverished) and in deomstrating that there thrived a whole culture that was orderly in its chaos and rich and beautiful and strong.
Though the city was demolished, its existence and the buzz of opinions surrounding it just months before it was torn down demonstrates the importance of cultural reletiveness. Oh, and a lesson best said in a few frank words — not everyone wants to be Americans. Seriously, if America could just learn that, all its best efforts could be just that, best efforts, not overbearing attitudes destined to create embitterment.
Link: Kowloon Walled City
Feeling a bit staircasean today…
“The winding staircase is an image that refers to upward movement -of moving from one level to a higher level…… the crucial feature…is an elevating process…is an ascent that raises us above the confining entanglements of immediate earthly existence and its concrete, personal particulars…
…stair symbolism in many myths which of course are symbols of ascending and descending…the symbolism of ascension by means of stairs was known in Greece…Jacob dreams of a ladder whose top reaches heaven, …Mohammed sees a ladder rising from the temple in Jerusalem to heaven, … in Islamic mysticism: to ascend to God, the soul must mount seven successive steps, …[and] In the heaven of Saturn Dante sees a golden ladder rising dizzyingly to the last celestial sphere and trodden by the souls of the blessed.”
From The Seven Liberal Arts by Thomas D. Worrel for the Northern California Research Lodge of the Freemasons.
Above image is from photographer Ian Ference. Featured on his blog, The Kingston Lounge, Ference captures the beauty of abandoned buildings in and around New York. Ference goes by the name Richard Nickel, Jr., an homage to guerilla preservationist Richard Nickel, who documented architect Louis Sullivan’s work in Chicago until he died in 1972 when he was crushed by a falling staircase at the abandoned Chicago Stock Exchange.
Below are more images of abandoned staircases taken by Ference.
The Frog Prince, best known through the Brothers Grimm’s written version, and traditionally is the first story in their collection, is the tale of a spoiled princess who reluctantly befriends a frog, meeting him after dropping her beloved gold ball into his pond. The frog in the end of the story turns into a handsome prince, and though in modern versions of the story the transformation is triggered by the princess kissing the frog, in the original Grimm version, the frog’s spell was broken when the princess threw it against a wall in disgust.
“According to Carl Jung’s analysis, the story presents an initiation process of a young female psyche. Fairy tale, in Jungian analysis, is a rich source of archetypes and it can be analyzed as a dream. The Id character in this story is the young princess. Being a virgin, she does not yet appreciate the attraction from male and views her rude and dirty male companions as animals, more specifically, frogs. The golden ball represents her Self, which is lost in the well in the woods. Here both the well and the woods represent her unconsciousness. During her process of searching for her Self, she met a frog, who was actually a man. The frog helped her and wanted to drink from her cup and eat from her plate, which represent his desire of kissing her. To sleep on her bed represents the intimacy between husband and wife. As the virgin princess violently threw the frog against the wall in disgust, she suddenly came to realize the masculinity inside her unconscious Self. Upon this realization, the frog returns to the real image of a man or in this case, a prince with kind eyes. The princess is now a matured woman ready for marriage.”
Of recently, Gilding has seen the resurfacing of this Christian Dior campaign on the internet. For whatever reason that may be, the images have been circulation full force on blogs, LiVEJOURNAL, webcolumns, and the like en masse. All of which have touted and praised the street photography style and gorgeous designer clothing. Many praised the classic lines of Dior’s dresses while others critiqued the composition, color, and quality of the photos themselves. Comparisons were made of the bright bold colors of Dior’s dresses against the drab and soggy desaturated colors of the plebian-like passers-by clothing.
English Russia had a whole other thought on the matter, calling the campaign “Dior’s Cruel Trick.” As the commentary so points out, Dior’s campaign, published in LIFE magazine some 30 years ago, was shot during the high time of the Iron Curtain. The composition of the shoot itself was of models wearing Dior’s newest fashions of the season, swaddled in the decadence of his luxure line, walking the streets of Moscow. And that is the bone of contention for the writer concerning this campaign — what must have those Russian women on the streets of Moscow felt when faced with rubbing elbows with decadence they could never have. Not only because money was an issue, but because communist government, as Russia was at the time, restricted is countrymen/women to wearing only what their communist designer companies fashioned. As one can see from the photographs of this campaign, those communist designers weren’t that worried about fashion. And given any knowledge one has of communism, they’d understand that the reason for that was conformity. What is there to want when you all have the same. As the commentator points out, any item which got inside the Iron Curtain from abroad was treated as an icon (and something worthy of a punishable offense).
The commentator’s question brings about a quandary on the ethics of cultural relativism. Was it “okay” for Dior to shoot such a campaign in the streets of Russia even though such lavish decadence was denied to the Russian people simply because the rest of the Western World reveled in such opulent fashion?
While cultural relativism from an anthropological and sociological standpoint generally argues for the acceptance of other cultures, from an ethical standpoint its principle balks truly ethical behavior with a middle-of-the-road standpoint. Ethically speaking, cultural relativism simply states that what is good and right to me is right even if it is not good and right for you because my own culture dictates that it is right. One’s own ethics in this view is understood in terms of his or her own culture and essentially allows for little to know actual regard of its affects on another’s culture.
More images of the campaign can be seen on English Russia.
“I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country; he is a bird of bad moral character…The turkey is, in comparison, a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America…He is, though a little vain and silly, it is true, but not the worse emblem for that, a bird of courage, and would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British guards.“
Benjamin Franklin, letter of January 26,1784
Speaking of joie de vivre. The term is used to express a cheerful enjoyment of life, and may be seen as a joy of everything, in such as a comprehensive feeling of joy and/or as a philosophy of life. As Robert’s Dictionnaire says, “joie is a sentiment exaltant ressenti par toute la conscience.” That is to say, it “involves one’s whole being.”
Falstaff, famously depicted in Eduard von Grützner’s painting by the same name, is a fictional character who appears in three of William Shakespeare’s plays as a companion to Prince Hal, the future King Henry V, is well known for his joie de vivre. A fat, vainglorious, and cowardly knight, Falstaff leads the apparently wayward Prince Hal into trouble, but he is ultimately repudiated after Hal becomes king.
While Falstaff is a central element built into the natural structure of the plays, he seems to be mainly a fun-maker, a character whom we both laugh with and laugh at. Even his name invites humor, as it is a sort of pun on impotence, brought on by the character’s excessive consumption of alcohol.Yet, Falstaff embodies a kind of depth common to Shakespeare’s tricky comedy. In Act II, Scene III of Henry V, his death is described by the character “Hostess” in terms that echo the death of Socrates.
These stiletto’s are quite literally a work of art and a worthy title of The Latest Invention of the Marquis de Sade.
The creation of senior art student at Carnegie Mellon University, Emily Berezin’s 5″ stiletto heels are made entirely from metal, fabricated by hand, with a cast heel. The straps, which open and close on hinges, lock onto the feet. Berezin’s inspiration is that age old idea that “pain is beauty, beauty is pain,” and a consideration of popluar ideas regarding beauty. ” I’m honestly amazed at women who choose to wear stiletto heels on a regular basis. One must “learn” how to walk in such heels, and it remains difficult and uncomfortable…This pair of shoes acts as a pair of handcuffs, binding the wearer, although it is unclear who will hold the keys.”
Berezin is also interested in the use of high heels as a sort of armor for women, providing the interesting perspective example of the businesswoman who don’s the stiletto of imminent death to provide herself with additional height, a sexualized stance and gait, and a feeling of power of men.
Link: Emily Berezin–flickr
“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
~ Martin Luther King
Thoughts on the Death of Martin Luther King written by Linda Edmonds, one of the
First Black Women @ Virginia Tech
“Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.”
~ Martin Luther King
Photograph of Ernest C. Withers, civil rights photographer
“I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.”
~ Martin Luther King
Photograph by Charles Moore
“…let us move on in these POWERFUL days of challenge to make America what it ought to be.”
Photograph by Charles Moore
Photograph by Spider Martin
“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”
~ Martin Luther King
Photograph by Spider Martin
“Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.”
~ Martin Luther King
“Unearth the past — and erase it…Victors build monuments to remember the dead, and tear down the statues of the tyrants who killed them, but mostly in vain. Statues and memorials inscribe history, which each generation rewrites to suit itself.”
“Legislating monuments doesn’t rectify injustices of the past. It just fumbles around with the symbols of history, reminding us why we devise them in the first place. Statues and plaques are just metal and stone. That said, the new law, forged by the children of this silence, paradoxically injects rusting symbols with fresh significance for a new century.”
~ Michael Kimmelman