In the comment sections of Randa Jarrar's essay, "Why I can't stand white belly dancers," commenter listtowardslight said: listtowardslight
As a world musician, I'm going to register my deep disapproval of this article. If someone studies an art form deeply, gives credit where due, and gives it a thorough and deep treatment, they become a part of it. They're communicating in ways greater than words. It's nigh well a responsibility to continue the transmission.
How many videos of any Middle Eastern instrument played can you find without some argument breaking out in the comments - this is Persian! No! They ripped it off from the Kurds! No! The Armenians invented everything! These jokers want to place national ownership on an instrument or a type of music. Are they the ones playing, singing and dancing? Hardly ever.
Does the author want to see if any Chinese are angry that the Japanese koto, the Korean gayageum, the Vietnamese danh tran, the Mongolian yatga all ripped off their ancient zither, the guzheng? Was this not an organic proliferation?
The reality is that artists are driven by empathy and inspiration, and that's what the nationalists miss. The nationalists have a deep underlying mistake in thinking *anything* in the world has a linear, neatly bounded growth rather than a unbounded, ongoing weave. There is no single family tree to any long-standing art; cross-pollination is more the rule than the exception. That's why, done rightly, it's effective connective tissue, effective antidote to oppression!
What about when it's done disrespectfully or wrongly? Are there cheap, disrespectful knock-offs? Yes. They're outed as soon as something real shows up. It's all a part of the conversation.
I'm talking about humanity's bards and artists doing what they *ought* to do. Every pre-literate society passes on their stories through song, and often by dance; these things have deeper roots. They are anthems to a deeper part of ourselves that goes deeper than social or national constructs, which we are better for listening to.
Art and song and dance slips boundaries and brings people into sync more readily than it sections them by nation, tribe, or race. It is more powerful when kindling empathy than smothering it. Compare any real cultural transmission to national anthems - what has more power? Art is at its vital best when it's humanizing people, which powerfully counters corporate and national propaganda which would have us dehumanizing the Other so that war can be sold to the masses.
Yes, there is an issue with cultural appropriation. It came from power differential and violent oppression, which are the creations of politicians, warlords, and bean-counters. Not artists.
I'm going to close with a quote from a well-known poet, but the fact was that he wasn't just a poet. Each line of his poetry was to be spoken in the midst of dance, during yet another time of notable cultural exchange and awful war. His instruments were banned by religious fundamentalists and had to be smuggled as contraband, because those poems and that music and that dance were all a part of something they wanted to suppress.
* * *
I Have Learned So much from God That I can no longer Call Myself
A Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim, A Buddhist, a Jew.
* * *
There's a reason we remember Hafez's unbounded spirit - here transmitted by Daniel Ladinksy - far better than anyone that tried to nail it down or set boundaries on its transmission.
Normally I think progressives would just agree with you, but right now, I'm not quite sure.
For one, we're watching "True Detective," where the ones with deeper roots in the pre-literate Bayou, who's art and rituals have leaked through all the state's attempt at smothering, are rabid child-abusers. And the rope they use -- it's not for weaving but for tying kids down. And if we're admiring the anthropological mind of detective Rust, it's because it's going to help him snuff them out.
Secondly, the European nations that attempted to kill pre-literate folk culture, replaced astrology with astronomy, magic with science -- and it's getting harder for us to champion any group that could think science an imposition. Normally we're all with you, because championing the traditionally picked on pisses off Republicans to no end, but it's becoming more important to champion science above all else. So the pre-literate cultures which enabled female empowerment and "commerce" with such things as their dance, art, and witchcraft, against a masculine state that wanted the multivalent tamed and unified -- but who were also against superstitions and for science, are going to get a more appreciative reappraisal from us.
And you know, folk art may not contain a wit of empathy; it might not even be its core. The Venus figurines are considered amongst our first human art, and like what's at the bottom of "True Detective's" Bayou "sink," they may have been used mostly as child-raping wands.
Richard Brody shared a link.Moderator · November 20 at 3:38pm I'm obsessed with Bringing Up Baby, which is on TCM at 6 PM (ET). It's the first film by Howard Hawks that I ever saw, and it opened up several universes to me, cinematic and otherwise. Here's the story. I was seventeen or eighteen; I had never heard of Hawks until I read Godard's enthusiastic mention of him in one of the early critical pieces in "Godard on Godard"—he called Hawks "the greatest American artist," and this piqued my curiosity. So, the next time I was in town (I… I was out of town at college for the most part), I went to see the first Hawks film playing in a revival house, which turned out to be "Bringing Up Baby." I certainly laughed a lot (and, at a few bits, uncontrollably), but that's not all there was to it. I had never read Freud, but I had heard of Freud, and when I saw "Bringing Up Baby," its realm of symbolism made instant sense; it was obviou…
A Polish zoologist and his wife maintain a zoo which is utopia, realized. The people who work there are blissfully satisfied and happy. The caged animals aren't distraught but rather, very satisfied. These animals have been very well attended to, and have developed so healthily for it that they almost seem proud to display what is distinctively excellent about them for viewers to enjoy. But there is a shadow coming--Nazis! The Nazis literally blow apart much of this happy configuration. Many of the animals die. But the zookeeper's wife is a prize any Nazi officer would covet, and the Nazi's chief zoologist is interested in claiming her for his own. So if there can be some pretence that would allow for her and her husband to keep their zoo in piece rather than be destroyed for war supplies, he's willing to concede it.
The zookeeper and his wife want to try and use their zoo to house as many Jews as they can. They approach the stately quarters of Hitler's zoologist …