#45, oil at any cost

March 14, 2017

Antonia Juhasz

“We have a world that is deeply concerned about the fact that the United States is willing to go to any length to pursue its own agenda, including an agenda that is dominated by oil … The Trump administration is composed of people who have made their careers in pursuit of fossil fuels … You have Rex Tillerson, secretary of state, the former CEO of Exxon Mobile. We know that Exxon Mobile’s climate scientists in the mid 1970s discovered the fact that burning fossil fuels harms the climate. Then Exxon Mobile led the climate denialist movement and took that science and put it into a deep, dark corner and instead put millions and millions of dollars into funding climate denialism.” Antonia Juhasz

See More Fact about Big Oil:

 

In my previous #100hardtruth (#42) I quoted from a recent piece by Farhad Manjoo, including this line: “You might even credit cameras — or blame them — for our more emotional, and less rational, politics.”

Alex Wong, Generated by IJG JPEG Library

I’d like to trouble or deepen Manjoo’s observations, however, by noting that feminist/queer affect theory proposes that connections that are drawn through the body, in its lived spaces and encounters, and outside or alongside the merely cognitive, honor ways of knowing and being that are entirely necessary for both our well-being as humans and our most complete possibilities as viable social and political agents within communities and movements.

Female activists at Standing Rock, Antonia Juhasz

In our current world order—where the most powerful people are nothing but irrational, where deception underwrites a good deal of communication and the media systems that move it, and where hard facts tumble in the face of pulpy greed and corruption—it goes without saying that we must encourage and support systems (intellectual, artistic, economic, technological, political, communicative) that engage in and with the cogent. But reasoned thinking, speaking and representation need not be enjoyed at the diminishment of feeling, affect and other embodied forms of knowing. Not only is this not a zero sum game, but the most compelling truths are the ones made and received when the emotional and the rational co-exist to create an opening up to the “possibilities, gaps, overlaps, dissonances and resonances” where lie true beauty, meaning, and purpose.

“That’s one of the things that “queer” can refer to: the open mesh of possibilities, gaps, overlaps, dissonances and resonances, lapses and excesses of meaning when the constituent elements of anyone’s gender, of anyone’s sexuality aren’t made (or can’t be made) to signify monolithically.” ― Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Tendencies

 

See More:

 

Radical Links

October 12, 2011

Here are some links to radical media actions:

  • feminist academic blogging: “The Three Things I Learned at the Purdue Conference for Pre-Tenure Women,” by Kate Clancy
  • dispatches from  Occupy Wall Street by the Journal of Aesthetics and Protest
  • my sister, Antonia, interviewed by Real News TV Network on Afghanistan’s Energy Wars
  •  my own early-work on my new blog, FeministOnlineSpaces
  • my graduate student, Timothy Mallone’s video coverage of Occupy LA

Enjoy!

The second pod of my interview with Toby Miller for his CulturalStudies podcast was just cast. This one ended up being pretty personal: about my family of lefty intellectuals, like my sister, Antonia, who is in London with her new book, Black Tide, and several Gulf Coast residents, all attempting to attend and testify at the BP Annual Shareholder Meeting (last year, she and several others were arrested when they attempted to speak at the Chevron Annual Shareholder’s meeting).

One day later: things are heating up in London! A protester got arrested, my sister and others are all over the international press. Go sister, go!

“The promise held by video, that it could create ‘personal media,’ that normal people could control the production of video imagery and bypass the tightly controlled corporate structure of commercial media, seemed like a revolutionary and democratic advance. Video was seen as a potentially radical political tool that could subvert the relationship between dominant media structures and audience , eventually allowing artists and anyone else to directly address the public without the need of a support structure of broadcast television, museums, galleries, or other forms of distribution. -“Introduction: California Videos, Artists and Histories,” Glenn Phillips

While a certain strand of video art was made with the distinct purpose of reaching an audience so as to express opinions, ideas, analyses, images, or ways of being unexpressed through dominant media, it seems important to note that only a small portion of this has since been posted onto YouTube, making use of this newly available tool to expand audience, using video and YouTube as a “radically political tool…to directly address the public,”  by using this (new) tool to allow for expanded exposure to these (old) radical ideas and images.

Why?

As a “video artist” myself who has often used the medium to expand the reach of my voice (or my community’s: see my work on AIDS activist video, for example) in the name of a cause, I’ve only chosen to put one of my videos on YouTube (RELEASED: 5 Short Videos about Women and Prison; while SCALE, about my sister Antonia, was loaded by the corporation that distributes it against my better wishes). The reason(s) are clear: activist videos are made to be shown within organized settings, where context, dialogue, community, and continuing actions (see my sister Antonia Juhasz’s recent “Marching on Chevron” organized with the screening of the Yes Men’s new film) need to be as carefully engineered or constructed as is the video text itself. In fact, radical screenings are often understood to be as much a part of activist video (art) as is the video. Since this is impossible on YouTube, the lack of context and community trumps the power of access and old-school video activists choose to stay home (or march without help of YouTube).

Chicago SCALE Roundtable

November 5, 2007

Two weeks ago, we held a summit on the organizing and distribution possibilities of my documentary, SCALE, generously sponsored by a Chicago feminist media and arts organization and attended by a stellar group of hand-picked women activists, scholars, and organizers. I haven’t been able to write about it until this late date because this was a difficult meeting for me. This is not to say that the participants were un-supportive; they were not. But it is clear that SCALE was, for this group at least, not the “activist film” I had imagined or they had desired. The women in the room expressed that they need from documentary just what my sister has wanted throughout this process (and what she has insisted “activists” would want as well): either an in-depth portrait of the activist, Antonia (how she got there, how she stays there, what she fights for, how she does it), or an illustrated version of her book: a film as easier-to-understand condensation of her critically important ideas, first articulated in words, now in images and with emotion. I will attest that this activist film, the one mine is not, is important, and needed, just not the one I set out to, or even am capable to make. This would be a film that would feed and sustain people who are already working against the war and the Bush Agenda and who need more information, already working and need a pep-talk, already activists and need to see more like themselves on the screen for self-sustaining purposes.

The women in the room were uncomfortable with, or uninterested in the film’s sister-tension (the personal nature of the drama) and self-reflection (its focus on the media rather than Antonia’s ideas as expressed through the media). My departures from Antonia’s ideas were understood to be overly “theoretical,” “abstract,” or “obscure.” Complicatedly, however, it is the documentary’s self-reflexive quality about the state of the left, in relation to media, activism, organizing, and the relations between the personal and the political, which most seems to impress those who are moved by the film. This satisfied viewership understands the film as “activist” in how it allows us to see and talk about the left, activism, and the media with a new formal and verbal vocabulary (that of SCALE).
Which is all to say, that the workshop, although of course personally painful for me, was incredibly illuminating both about the film (how and for who it functions), and about a deep, abiding and defining split within the left about the best form and function of information, action, images and ideas in our media age. If you hate the film, you probably believe that direct action and organizing are what matters if we are ever going to make a change in this society; and if you love the film you are probably less convinced that such actions continue to matter, as you are also self-consciously debating where power lies in a society where individual action seems to have been subsumed by corporate control and media, and what that leaves as a possibility for you to do… Is the left best served by simply doing more stuff, louder, more effectively or does the left need to re-group, re-consider, and talk amongst ourselves about what has and has not worked, and what will and will not work as the conditions of power continue to change?

Are pep-talks, feeling good, and getting smarter the only way to inspire activism, or could activism come from self-scrutiny and uncertainty? Does navel-gazing waste our precious time? What do we gain and lose when we don’t speak directly, supplying much-needed information, but rather talk about the state of information itself? What is the use for formal and intellectual complexity about our current state when the current state is itself so bad?

#1 SCALE screening

October 11, 2007

On Thursday, October 4, we had our first work-in-progress screening of SCALE fro a friendly audience at the Claremont Colleges, where I teach. Antonia made it, as did representatives of various local anti-war groups, who spoke about their efforts before the screening began.

The most interesting aspect of the Q and A at this screening mirrors a theme of the documentary: its interest in divisions within the left about the form and function of education or information in relation to social change. Many in the audience were there (understandably) to hear Antonia speak truth, facts, and analysis to power, something she does very well, and for which she has a following. While this does happen, in small parts, in the documentary, it is, in fact, not really a documentary about Antonia’s book and its ideas, as much as it is about the concept of scale, and how Antonia’s book, ideas, and experiences trying to sell and impart them demonstrate the contradictions of ramping up numbers, attention, and exposure. Thus, some in the audience were pleased to see a self-reflexive documentary raising questions of tactics, effectivity, organizing strategies, and the role of the media and celebrity in contemporary politics, just as Antonia’s fans thought this was a diversion from the real stuff.

Discussion centered around whether the left should be educating itself with facts, or whether we have already heard these facts; or should we be navel-gazing, and re-thinking strategies, as well as our flaws and strengths?

Finally, the highly personal nature of the questions asked to Antonia and I (rather than political) threw Antonia, and it is seems good she has some practice before the show really goes on the road. People asked her questions she has never heard before: abo0ut her spiritual beliefs or our family. And afterwards, we talked together about how my feminism, and a commitment to the personal, is fundamentally different from her more straightforward commitment to the “political.” This is really another vocabulary to think about the differences in knowledge production, and political strategy raised above, and I am certain that these tensions will define the life and reception of the film.