This week, bohemian Paris, a strange satirical Trump video, a floating villa, the disappearance of the rifle emoji, livestreaming death, and more.
A review of two books (Luc Sante’s The Other Paris: An Illustrated Journey through a City’s Poor and Bohemian Past, and Sudhir Hazareesingh’s How the French Think: An Affectionate Portrait of an Intellectual People) by Jeremy Harding, that has some juicy bits about French bohemia:
Sante has dug up a menu from a brothel run in 1915 by ‘Mlle Marcelle Lapompe’, actually Renée Dunan, a feminist writer in her early twenties, who later took up with Philippe Soupault, Francis Picabia and the tricky André Breton, though she’s largely absent from the Dada/Surrealism record. Mlle Lapompe charged 4 francs and 95 sous for complicated sex with ‘the maid’ and upped it five sous for the same complication with ‘the waiter’: a travesty of equal pay, unless of course the waiter was really the maid with a pencilled moustache. Hitler called Paris the ‘whorehouse of Europe’ and the Nazis had few objections. But Islamic State – for whom Paris is also ‘the capital of prostitution and obscenity’ – has no use for sex work. Sante thinks of the city more affectionately as ‘the world capital of contradictions’.
The maker of this strange Trump video says it is a satire but I’m not so sure. The aesthetics are actually in line with the weird nationalist imagery Trump peddles and let’s not forgot that Nazi chic is a thing in Asia and the blowing up of the world is pretty in line with the visual culture of video games, WWE, Hollywood sci-fi movies, and monster trucks:
Unicode president Mark Davis confirmed this to BuzzFeed in an email: “The committee decided not to mark them as emoji, but to add them as characters (that is, normal black & white symbols).” I reached out to Davis for additional comment.
According to an unnamed source who contacted BuzzFeed, “Apple” is responsible for removing the rifle, as the suggestion was made by someone from the company who sits on the Unicode Consortium (BuzzFeed doesn’t say whom; it could be any of these people).
Ruchir Joshi writes about the strange Eurocentric reactions to Bhupen Khakhar’s show at the Tate Modern (h/t @datta_sona):
If [Jonathan] Jones and his cantankerous bouffant weren’t bad enough, we also get pearls from Laura Cumming, the critic for The Guardian‘s sibling organ, The Observer. Reading Cumming’s review I find myself wondering if she and I have been looking at the same paintings. “Nobody could call Khakhar a natural painter or praise his figurative descriptions,” states Ms Cumming, to which one could answer, “Please speak for yourself, if ever there was a natural painter it is Bhupen Khakhar.” As for his “figurative descriptions”, Cumming, somewhat less vitriolically, has the same problems as the hapless Mr Jones who calls Khakhar’s “renditions of human flesh” “drab and vague”. Again, the stink of a certain inbred world view rises from both these reviews. No one is more precise and less drab in his depictions of the middle-aged and older Indian male than Bhupen Khakhar; I’d stick my neck out further and say that Khakhar’s engagement with the non-idealized, naked body undergoing inevitable entropy is as deep as a Lucian Freud’s; if you must compare, it’s also as particular — just as you don’t see too many people of colour in Freud’s pink-fleshed universe, Khakhar’s world — as far as naked bodies go — consists primarily of the older, small-town Gujarati male. The problems for the aging village-yokels writing in The Guardian/Observer are firstly, that they are not familiar with this kind of human body, and secondly, they clearly can’t decipher the layering Khakhar puts upon those bodies, distortions which come not from Western art but the tropes and vernaculars of the subcontinent’s own rich visual traditions. Cumming and Jones make one imagine a pair of provincial, conservative French gourmands (from long ago) who suddenly find upon their tongues the shocking tastes of chilli, tamarind, karela and hing.
Today is Juneteenth, which commemorates the emancipation of the last remaining slaves in the United States. I decided it might be a good day to link to this 1962 essay on 200 years of African American poetry written by Langston Hughes. It begins:
Poets and versifiers of African descent have been publishing poetry on American shores since the year 1746 when a slave woman named Lucy Terry penned a rhymed description of an Indian attack on the town of Deerfield, Massachusetts, a quarter of a century before the revolt of the New England colonies against Britain. And it was a Negro woman, Phillis Wheatley, who in one of her poems applied the oft quoted phrase “First in Peace” to General George Washington before he became the first President of the United States, From his rebel field encampment the General sent the young poetess a note which read in part, “If you should ever come to Cambridge or near headquarters, I shall be happy to see a person so favored by the Muses, and to whom Nature has been so liberal and beneficent in her dispensations. I am with great respect, Your Obedient Humble Servant, George Washington.”
A year and a half later, however, Harvard announced the results of carbon-dating tests, multispectral imaging, and other lab analyses: The papyrus appeared to be of ancient origin, and the ink had no obviously modern ingredients. This didn’t rule out fraud. A determined forger could obtain a blank scrap of centuries-old papyrus (perhaps even on eBay, where old papyri are routinely auctioned), mix ink from ancient recipes, and fashion passable Coptic script, particularly if he or she had some scholarly training. But the scientific findings complicated the case for forgery. The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife had undergone — and passed — more state-of-the-art lab tests, inch for inch, than almost any other papyrus in history.
But skeptics had identified other problems. Among the most damning was an odd typographical error that appears in both the Jesus’s-wife fragment and an edition of the Gospel of Thomas that was posted online in 2002, suggesting an easily available source for a modern forger’s cut-and-paste job.
The Intercept has been quite excellent covering the anti-Muslim bias in the corporate media, and this article about the exploitation of LGBTQ issues to demonize Islam is on the mark:
Depicting anti-LGBT hatred as the exclusive (or even predominant) province of Islam is not only defamatory toward Muslims but does a massive disservice to the millions of LGBTs who have been — and continue to be — seriously oppressed, targeted, and attacked by people who have nothing to do with Islam.
This video suggests it is easier to hide weapons on your body than many people think:
A Chicago man was shot live during a livestream on Facebook. The social media platform did not remove the footage, becasuse, they explained:
The video remains on Facebook with a warning message about its graphic nature.
A spokeswoman for Facebook said the video does not violate company policy. The social media site would remove a video if it celebrated or glorified violence, she said.
You can watch the Facebook video here.
Some pro-LGBTQ protesters found a creative way to block Westboro Baptist Church from interfering with the funeral of various victims of the Orlando shooting: