Dissolving love bars

 

 

Romeo and Juliet (class), Othello and Desdemona in Othello (exterior), Fred and Laurence in Xavier Nolan’s Laurence anyways (gender), Chiron and Kevin in Tarell Lavin McCraney and Barry Jenkins’ Oscar winning poetic childhood story Moonlight (sexuality).

Consider all loving relationships that were hindered due to society’s classifying in either confirming or deviating from the stated pattern. Relationships of love which were stopped, but defied, and survived, and moved mountains. Two jazz lovers with a sense of humour run into each other at a ball in London. The year is 1947, one of them has been a volunteer during the war and is now working as a clerk at a lawyer’s firm, the other is a law student at the university. After a few weeks of dating, they decide to get married.

It may sound somewhat trivial. Two people meet, find a common vibe, fall in love for life. Happens all the time. However, Ruth Williams is white and Seretse Khama is black; moreover, he is the successor of the British protectorate Bechuanaland, today Botswana. The couple’s love turns into an intercontinental political subject of highest concern; both the British colonial rule and the families try to avert the liaison even though there are no legal obstacles either in Bechuanaland or in Great Britain.

But the racism of the period is deeply entrenched in the economic and political conditions of power. South Africa’s prime minister Malan, followed by the Nazi sympathizer Strijdom, instates apartheid and bans marriages between black and white people; upon which Bechuanaland, neighbour in the north, becomes a haven for ANC notable activists Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, and the author Bessie Head. A mixed prince couple harbouring democratic ambitions and settling down in Bechuanaland is unthinkable to the white minority government of South Africa.

And Great Britain prioritizes its own economic interests – the British mining companies’ activities in South Africa – and obeys the South African demands.

On the 10th of March the film director Amma Asante’s [Belle] excellent A United Kingdom premieres. The film is based on Susan Williams Colour Bar, the Triumph of Seretse Khama and His Nation, a book documenting every diplomatic turn and every protest campaign in the battle concerning the existence of the Khama couple.

Large sections of the people in Bechuanaland backed the Khama couple by boycotting  British taxes, and by refusing to cooperate; support organizations in Great Britain cultivated opinion and assisted mass media with argument and facts; racists holding bureaucratic key posts in the British imperial rule were replaced with more enlightened people.

At the same time, students returned from elite universities in the West and created African independence movements that challenged the British colonial system. Supported by a women’s revolution, an overlooked and decisive event told about in the book, but rather skipped over in the film, Botswana became a democracy including women in 1996 with Oxford-educated Seretse Khama as president.

It must be noted that there was a female candidate to the position, Oratile Sekgoma, whom the British refused to cooperate with. A woman in the highest office of the nation “was out of the question”, according to the British. Perhaps it was easy to forget who resided in the seat of honour back home.

Undoubtedly, the love between Ruth and Seretse contributed into shaking the British empire. However, for many years they fought in vain against the economic and political power plays. A private situation construction worker Richard Loving and home worker Mildred Loving in the USA of the 1960’s most probably would have identified with. In Jeff Nichols empathizing film Loving, following Nancy Buirski’s documentary The Loving Story (2011), shown at the Gothenburg Film Festival in February, the couple Loving, she categorized as black, he as white, has a formal certificate to prove their marriage.

To no avail. The police arrests and extradites the newly wed from the state of Virginia. Either they get divorced and move back or they stay wedded and are forbidden to return home. The discrimination laws of Virginia destroy the future of the couple Loving, but racism cannot destroy their love. To both the Lovings and Khamas the option to give up did not exist, their love gave them no choice. Even Richard Loving was affected by racism and was critiqued and heckled by both white and black people. Ruth Khama equally, especially in Bechuanaland, where, among other things, the white colonists shut her out from social life and denied her entrance at hotel restaurants.

The couple Khama and the couple Loving  were interviewed, in their respective time, and separately, by Life Magazine as part of the struggle for the legalization of mixed marriages. Many sympathizing people gave their support – more in the case of the wealthy couple Khama than in the considerably less privileged case of the couple Loving.

How wonderful then that Mildred Loving’s effort for the right to love turns out to be decisive. Mildred’s external environment monitoring of protest marches on television gives her the idea to write to Robert F. Kennedy, who furthers the issue to a law firm willing to take on the case without billing. The case is tried with success in the Supreme Court, which constitutionally abolishes the ban on interracial marriages, accordingly in the sixteen American states in addition to Virginia that still had racial laws.

The couple Khama opened the eyes of the world to loving relationships regardless of skin colour. The case of the couple Loving became the tipping point that made loving legal in the whole of the US. And eventually with an even wider significance: In 2015, in Obergefell vs Hodges, the verdict in Loving vs Virginia was used to criminalize the discrimination of gay marriages in the US.1 Earlier that year, a resolution acknowledging equal marriage rights including same sex couples was adopted by the European Parliament. A reform that was instituted in Sweden 2009, and recently in Finland (1st of March).

Marriage, or not marriage. Living together, or not living together. Loving relationships, or not loving relationships. The choice ought to be voluntary and equal for all. Every year, the 12th of June, Loving Day is celebrated in the USA in remembrance of Mildred’s and Richard’s victory in the Supreme Court 1967. The celebrators are most often of divergent sex, but an increasing number of freely sexed people have started to party before Pride.

Since everyone’s right to be who they are, or want to be, and everyone’s right to love whomever they want to love, dissolves many borders. Considering the dubious attitude of the new American president towards human rights, awareness of this kind is more urgent than ever.

 

Originally published in AAM 4th of March 2017, translated from the Swedish

  • Susan Williams, Colour Bar, the Triumph of Seretse Khama and His Nation, Penguin/Random House, 2006
  •  Not. 1. The film The Case Against 8, 2014, tells about the legalisation of same sex marriages in California.
  •  Picture from the movie, actors: David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike

©Arimneste Anima Museum #6

Soul sister

 

 

The Mad Hatter, mad from the mercury in the glue the workers had to endure in the British sweatshops of the 1840s, says to Alice in Wonderland when she is lamenting the situation: ‘You have lost your muchness, Alice. You were much more muchier before.’ After having deliberated upon this, Alice decides in favour of her muchness. To make use of her freedom, and become a champion. By becoming a champion she is the one who kills the Beast, the war machine / the body prison / the patriarchy no one has mastered before.

Utopias can be the same as nowhere, can be the same as doom. Utopia is an unrealistic place and we are living in it to a large extent already. But let me start from the beginning. A wordless relation may be perceived as more profound than one filled with words. In Swedish the term used is ‘djur’, in latin animalia, or metazoa. In English the term is ‘animals’, originating from the latin animal, signifying with soul (anima).

In other words, those who breathe, those who have a soul. Those who have spaces of air to fill with consciousness. However – nota bene – no envy is justified here. ‘Animals’ is a term we ourselves are included in; man is also an animal.

Yet – among humans, the most common nonhuman animal is not a being who breathes. The most common nonhuman animal in human society is a being whose breathing has been extinguished. Extinguished consciousness. Extinguished body.

In Carolee Schneemann’s performance Meat Joy, exhibited at the First Festival of Free Expression at the American Center in Paris 1964, a group of almost naked people move around each other, and around meat parts of sausages, chicken, and fish. The group radiates energies of pleasure.

The artwork Meat Joy lets the bodily move. If not entirely freely, then at least openly. The bodies blend in voluptuous embraces. Senses and flesh are united. Living bodies are united with dead bodies. The art work’s element of meat food product blends the living flesh with the extinguished rotting meat.

The artwork is a free expression of sexuality against a backdrop of war. Intimacy and eroticism are staged against the aggression in Vietnam and Cambodia where the soldiers’ sex lives are destroyed (that is if their bodies survive). Young people’s tenderness and playfulness are transformed into anger and madness in the stench of dead bodies.

Schneemann’s work may be interpreted as a fulfilling of the patriarchal existence. Since human (by tradition) is the same as man, and man (historically) is the same as killing or commanding to kill, beginning in the obtaining of dead flesh as food, the being who has killed, or has survived the killing, becomes more of a human, and to consume that which is killed is transformed into an ideal erotic act.

The kind of protein chosen (the extinguished body of another animal, that which we call meat), requires killing, requires callousness of spirit. The one who aims to kill must learn to harm and to extinguish the breathing of the other. This is how the everyday practice of aggression begins. As a repetitive feature turned into a food habit that ingrains culture and evolves into a driving (necrophilia) force for dominance, and war.

A cultural force that contributes to civilization’s consumption of other species; in the aberration that the survival of other species is not intertwined with humanity’s own survival and that the nourishment and survival of mankind require the killing of others. In the aberration that the breathing of the human is not dependent upon the breathing of others, and that wordless consciousness does not count.

What have they done to the Earth?
What have they done to our fair sister?
Ravaged and plundered and ripped her and bit her
Stuck her with knives in the side of the dawn
And tied her with fences
And dragged her down

The Doors, ‘When the music’s over’ (Strange Days, 1967)

Jim Morrison’s ecofeminist despair is poetry’s depiction of and protestation against an attack war that resembles rape: The world is not to be harmed. The world is too indispensable to be exploited. And some paths are too beautiful to be mowed down. Some areas are too wonderful to be scrutinized. The gain is too small (or, too trivial, or harmful). The advantage is too small, and the price is too high.

But the materialized utopia of the exploiter is the same as the cutting down without repercussions. And deliberations are unnecessary since the Earth’s other beings are not regarded as someone’s sister.

In this kind of reality, meat from dead bodies becomes more valuable than other kinds of meat (meat from mushrooms, soya, fruit) since the bodies cost more energy and work (i.e. ravaging) to produce. Thus meat from killed animals is seen as more valuable because it requires more resources, thus requires more from society’s economy than the equally valuable plant protein (produced without war).

In such an economic order, animals are forcefully inseminated and lawfully covered in barns and well locked up facilities. Producers of cow milk may launch milk from Swedish farms on the market as ‘come a little closer to nature’, and The Asthma- and Allergy Association may sponsor TV-commercials speaking of meat parts as ‘safer food’, only a few months after the global H1N1-epidemic (originating from animal industries).

In such a global public space, silence resides when the Environmental Programme of the UN, in a report on the World Environmental Day 8th of June 2010, says that the two most important problems the world faces are the usage of fossil fuels, and agriculture’s focus on animal production (meat and milk from animals).1

The country’s political parties close their eyes, and stage an unaware replica of the artwork Meat Joy: All of them, with the exception of the Left Party, gather to enjoy extinguished animal bodies at a Swedish hamburger chain’s advertising party, in Almedalen, the biggest political festival of the year. They bring the barbecue into the garden and pull off the plastic cover from the meat packages.

And the Baltic Sea and the Saaristomeri Sea are filled with mud and algae. At another place, where the Swedish consumption affect even more, the corals of the seabeds turn white. The earth molders. The freshwater reserves runs dry. The forest areas are reduced. Cultivated land areas are diminished. The oxygen content decreases.

Peak Oil is followed by Peak Meat. The choice of protein, the choice to destruct animals and nature to obtain a certain type of food, pushes up the food prices at the world’s Southern continents. Simultaneously, the current family norm propagates mankind beyond the sustenance of the Earth (plus ninety million humans every year).

In a reality of impossibilities, utopia becomes unthinkable. In the endeavor for utopia, dystopia is created; the humans who contribute the least to the destruction (women and the young) are the ones who have to fight the hardest against getting rammed by the Beast’s ravings and temptations.

Hitherto humans in the category of women have attained liberation on the condition of not changing society’s direction. Not changing its glue and building components. If they, when having reached the steering wheel, have wished to turn the ship, they have had to say farewell. In this way, we are, not the least by our mothers, brought up to become pillars and backbone in the prevailing machine: lured into shopping, cooking, and being very afraid.

The obstacle to a joint liberation of the trivially extinguished bodies (Bos Taurus, Galliformes, Sus scrofa domestica, Melengridiane, Struthio camelus, É quus caballus and other species) is the arrogance humans show other humans. When the superordinated at the steering wheel of the Beast not even look minimally to their own species (regardless of sex and gender) – the right of everybody to a decent living standard, food to sustain one’s body, sexual freedom, and a membership in a union – they will hardly care about the necrophilia food culture they have created.

So – time to choose one’s own muchness. The liberation of animal bodies may give also human bodies the freedom to enjoy their own living flesh. To materialize their own humaneness, the uniqueness of our own species, and each and everyone’s personality, is to take what we want.

Nobody wants the imprisonment and the standing of no chance. And – the essentially common: Nobody wants the forceful covering. The kidnapping of the offspring, the confinement, the cramming, the rottenness and the stench, the hurting, the horror in the farming facilities, the assembly line of slaughter.

As we perceive it, nobody who is conscious wants this either.

No being who breathes. No soul sister.

Before performing her deed to kill the war machine, Alice convinces herself:
‘Why, sometimes I have believed as much as six impossibilities before breakfast.’

The Hatter gives her his support:
‘It is an excellent habit.’

In a world that has gone mad, it is indeed an excellent habit.

 

©Arimneste Anima Museum #4

Published in Bang Magazine, #3 Summer Issue 2010, translated from the Swedish.

  1. About the UNEP Report.

Rosana Antolí

 

rosana-antoli-quan-les-linies-son-temps-espai-13-fundacio-joan-miro-foto_pere-pratdesaba-7

 

Hur kan tiden visas som form och upplevelse?

Vikten av att ifrågasätta standarduppfattningar om växande, tid och utveckling som linjärt bestämda är numera erkänd. Inte lika erkänt är varifrån denna kritik stammar: urbefolkningar, miljörörelsen och ekofeministiska tänkare.

Men går tiden att tänka som en egen kropp? En ormliknande dito, hopsnurrad runt sig själv? Med återgångar och upprepade svängar, likväl på väg mot kroppsänden, därmed sitt slut?

Rosana Antolís When lines are time, kurerad av Martí Manen på Fundació Joan Miró i Barcelona 1/7 2016 – 11/9 2016, leker med kronologin som koreograferad materiell rörelse, som installation och som cirkulärt agerande: Hur tänker jag tiden? Hur känner jag den?

Antolí gör kritiken av det linjära till form; uppfattningen om tid som något universellt rakt och platt stämmer inte. Som bild och symbol för vars och ens enskilda upplevelser brister den; händelser återkommer, känslor återkommer, viker av, gör språng, far ut, landar, tycks upphöra men fortsätter i samma kropp inuti ett rektangulärt rum.

Antolís tidsorm av ögonblick som staplas i mängd syns här som medvetandemässigt exakt; i överensstämmelse med och beroende av källan, det unika medvetandet:

Du blir av med din sko, du är fem.
Du tappar din sko, du är trettiotre.
Du får inte på dig din sko, du är sextiosju.
Du är elva, du sviker en vän.
Du är fyrtiotvå, du blir sviken av en nära vän.
Du är etthundrasju, du förlorar din första vän, du får nya vänner.

Att genomleva en känsla, att återuppleva den som en ny känsla som uppstår i den gamla. Hur skulle just min eller din tid, våra liv, se ut om de tog form i böjd materia på detta vis? Vilken sorts riktat trassel summerar vår tid, våra medvetanden? När blir just min tid till en form redo att ställa ut?

 

rosana-antoli-quan-les-linies-son-temps-espai-13-fundacio-joan-miro-foto_pere-pratdesaba-2

 

Det är möjligt att tänka frågor om tiden som individuellt existentiellt mänskligt ontologiska, fastän de samtidigt är samhälleliga och civilisatoriska. Hur skulle olika samhällen – kollektiven av människors och andra varelsers – villkor, kamper, ögonblick, trassel av sett och återsett, känt och återupplevt samla sig i en ringlande ormkropp?

26th of August 2016

In English

©Arimneste Anima Museum #1

 

 

Archive

 

Nummer #8

The hidden climate poetry

Eco climate poetry

Soon it will crack

Pig? Who?

 

Nummer #7

Hundens genius

Materialet som gick därifrån

Rävarna raskar över isen

Råd för det demokratiska försvaret

 

Nummer #6

Nanine Vallain

Sophocles’ Antigone

Where is my home? Apropos Kafka

Rosana Antolí

Climate, Grub and Politics

 

Nummer #5

Spökets viskningar eller ”the elephant in the room”

Slick knockout

Skärgårdshavet Saaristomeri

 

Nummer #4

Var är mitt hem?

Antigone

Skin cloths

Soul sister

 

Nummer #3

The Utmost Silence

Dissolving love bars

Hidden figures

Ouaga girls

 

Nummer #2

Freedom connected

Léonora Miano

Oeniga eniga

Röster

Skallgång saknade

The lost parallel

 

Nummer #1

Andrea Fraser

Den dolda ekopoesin

Därför är det dags att göra slut med jaktromantiken

Rosana Antolí