Reading: 2013

I have been thinking about the ways I blog lately. I have an informal rule about trying not to comment on current affairs. Partly because the things going on now I perceive that an informed view is hard to distinguish from the received view when it is so close to just happening. However, I think some kind of reflection on the past year might be germane. Why? I’ll give two motivations:

 

Motivation I: I was just thinking today about the film Bicentennial Man (dir. C. Columbus). The protagonist’s lives through two centuries in an almost single minded set of goals and it is up to the viewer to notice how much of the world changes around the android. I think a story that is just as interesting as the android’s life, could be told through the world that he lives in and the changes in attitudes and technologies.

 

Motivation II: I told a friend of mine earlier this week about a certain hobby of mine. I like to take pictures in public of things that are ‘telling’ about the state of society today. My favourite example of this photography, was a Barclays’ bank branch that closed near where I live, there was an eviction/repossession notice on the window and above it was a paint-etched message from the original bank which said ‘start a business’. My friend said it reminded him of Cinema verite. I like trying to tell stories through juxtaposition, and usually I take these pictures to make my friends laugh, and think.

 

For me this year reminded me how our social reality is construed by gendered lenses that fits everyone into boxes. This month talk about the ‘person of the year’ has been discussed. I could talk about how Edward Snowden could legitimately be considered as a person of high impact in public discussions, I certainly have read a lot of tech and gadget magazines which raise issues of IP security and cybercrime in a way that would make otherwise apolitical publications very uncomfortable. I could also mention how the election of a Jesuit priest is a particularly momentous moment for me as someone educated by the Jesuits.

 

However, I think that for me, Miley Cyrus is my person of the year. It’s hard to have a certain kind of entertainment media following you all the time. Female celebrities are scrutinised in every way except perhaps what they actually believe and what they think. I mentioned a Miley Cyrus photoshoot as a lightning rod for a discussion of young female sexuality in a book review years ago and I find it notable how later on in her life and career she still finds herself a scapegoat for discussions that are so wide-ranging it’s dizzying. It says a lot to me, when the watercooler discussions I hear are more about ‘twerking’ and ‘selfies’; ‘onesies’ and ‘tweeting’, than ‘NSA’ and ‘Surveillance’; ‘Poverty’ and ‘Krisis’ (civil strife).

 

Public interests and public opinion are objects of our ontology that I have a growing consideration for as important to observe. 2013 is a year where dissidents are silenced around the world, narratives about recent history are being simplified and our newspapers and computer screens showing the news are actually just mirrors to ourselves, and as we gaze into that abyss, a duckface gazes back at us.

Happy New Year

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