American Rubble

Paul Farber, a Postdoctoral Writing Fellow at Haverford, answers all your questions about the most exciting First Friday since FAB had that cooking class in Reading Terminal Market.

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1.Can you tell me a little bit about the event? What/Who/Where/When?

American Rubble is an artist residency, symposium, and temporary exhibition on Tuesday, Dec 2 and Friday, Dec 5 that seeks to explore the ways we engage the economic and architectural transformations occurring currently in many contemporary cities, especially Philadelphia.  The events center around artist Stephanie Syjuco’s developing project, American Rubble, in which she seeks to collect and archive pieces of urban rubble, to convey and compare histories of the present. Syjuco will be in collaboration and conversation with students from several Haverford classes, and a group of prominent scholars/artists of cultural memory including Camilo J. Vergara, Susanne Slavick, Joshua Clover, and Salamishah Tillet.

2. When did you start organizing American Rubble? How did the idea start?

I first discovered Syjuco’s work when researching American artists who engage the history and memory of the Berlin Wall. Her series “Berlin Wall” was a critical and creative intervention against Cold War triumphalism, as well as an invitation to consider the multiple ways we imagine and consume history. Syjuco and I began corresponding about her project, and she became one of the artists included in the exhibition “The Wall in Our Heads” I curated this Fall in Washington D.C. (Which will be traveling to Haverford’s CFG Gallery next Fall.) We met for the first time in Berlin last summer, but for months prior had discussed next directions for this work. We realized we had a shared investment into questions about contemporary urban reinvestment and gentrification, and connected those conversations with other faculty members here at Haverford and Bryn Mawr, and critical thinkers in the Philadelphia area. This project is a direct collaboration between many faculty across disciplines (ranging from History to Chemistry to Art to the Library) and involves members of the larger Philadelphia community.

3. How did you choose the site of Ryan Gym for the temporary art exhibit?

My office is located in Ryan Gym, and even after over a year of being on campus, each day when I enter the building I see something new that catches my eye. Sometimes, it’s a fascinating architectural detail, or a new beam of light, or a different student activity in the gym, but I find it remarkable that a building so tied to the past traditions of Haverford can be so dynamic. Ryan is located at the physical heart of the campus and continues to invite speculation on what it could be for our campus – and its immediate future includes an exciting transformation into a well-resourced space for student creative and collaborative work. We want to celebrate that approaching evolution. When Syjuco visited Haverford back in August, we spent a lot of time in Ryan and thought about it as a building that could both be a venue for this project and is itself a statement about the passage of time. Our goal is to temporarily transform the space, to respect it and also create a venue for critical and collective dialogue.

4. What is so American about rubble? Why not trash or garbage in the title?

The title is an invitation to thinking about American culture and the future legacies of this era. The title signifies in a few directions – it is play on the mythologized cultural figure of the “American Rebel” to think about the causes and values of urban building projects; an ode to symposium speaker Camilo Vergara’s powerful work American Ruins; and an invitation to think about the physical condition of American cities that experience shocks and upheavals, even as they regrow.

Syjuco has pointed out previously, “Rubble is a transitional state – debris created by tearing something down. It is meant to be cleared away, an architectural folly, a failure of construction that is stigmatized and not to be looked at. By salvaging these objects, [my] project aims to critique the propensity to create souvenirs out of almost any event, instead turning the public’s attention on to objects that are a reminder of collapse.”

5. What do you hope Haverford students will walk away with after attending any or all of the three events?

We hope Haverford students and faculty involved in the project see themselves as co-producers of an emergent form of creative civic engagement. The participants are at once collaborators, conversants, critics, writers, and neighbors along Lancaster Avenue. Many of us involved with this co-curricular project, linking Syjuco and students across classes, also hope our students value working together to build platforms for critical thinking and creative expression. And finally, we hope Haverfordians comes out to view this transformation of Ryan Gym firsthand on December 5.

For more information, visit hav.to/americanrubble

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WHAT IS Re:Humanities?

If you have ever had a single question about Re:Humanities, from the most basic logistics to the most esoteric academic references, this is the blog post you’ve been waiting for. Katrina Obieta (BMC ’15), part of the Re:Hum working group, answers all.

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1. What is Re:Humanities, logistically speaking? What/Who/Where/When?

Re:Humanities ’15: Save, Share, Self-Destruct. will be held at Swarthmore College on April 9-10, 2015.

2. And: why?

The symposium is a two-day conferences that showcases undergraduate research on digital humanities. Our goal in this symposium is to empower undergraduates with the unique opportunity to playfully engage in scholarly research, challenging them to produce and collaborate in a sphere traditionally reserved for graduates and professionals. The theme this year lies at the intersection of digital scholarship and the public realm. The tools of new media allow for innovative academic research and streamlined social contact, yet present significant trade-offs. Privacy breaches, personal digital trails, and the effects of technology in daily life remain prominent issues in public and academic circles. These concerns raise fundamental questions for both scholars and the community: What do we save? Why do we save it? What do we trade for access? How much data is too much?

3. How can students access and learn about the digital humanities in the Tri-Co beyond this conference?

Re:Humanities is supported by both the Tri-Co Digital Humanities and Haverford College’s Hurford Center for the Arts and Humanities. They have many different programs and opportunities for students to learn more about digital scholarship. Learn more here:

tdh.brynmawr.edu

www.haverford.edu/HCAH/

4) Feminist scholar Donna Haraway writes, “I seek my siblings in the nonarboreal, laterally communicating, fungal shapes of the queer kin group that finds lapdogs and laptops in the same commodious laps” (When Species Meet, 10). How can the Digital Humanities navigate the differences and similarities between lapdogs and laptops?

Digital Humanities and especially the Re:Humanities Symposium both sit at the intersection between lapdogs and laptops. The Digital Humanities not only allow media and technology to advance, but research and scholarship in this field are constantly thinking about ways in which in can be put to everyday use in academia and beyond. This application and sharing of digital advances and scholarship from academia into the public realm is exactly what this year’s symposium hopes to explore.

5) What advice would you give students who want to submit to Re:Humanities 2015?

Two pieces of advice for students looking to submit proposals: one, is to submit early / on time and two, is to have a clear proposal topic or question. The Working Group is not necessarily looking for finished projects, but having a clear direction will be helpful. This year’s theme reaches out far and wide, so we can’t wait for all the different kinds of submissions and proposals we will receive!

For more information, visit http://blogs.haverford.edu/rehumanities/

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Portraiture, Disability, and Identity: Explorations with Mellon Creative Resident Riva Lehrer

"At 54," a self-portrait by Riva Lehrer. 2013.

“At 54,” a self-portrait by Riva Lehrer. 2013.

Mellon Creative Resident Riva Lehrer is returning to Haverford this Thursday to deliver her lecture, “Jarred: Self-Portrait in Formaldehyde”, inspired by an encounter with a fetal specimen at the mutter museum. Riva has exhibited her work in museums and galleries across the country, and has also curated numerous exhibitions. Her work focuses on issues of physical identity and the socially challenged body.

Riva’s visit is a continuation of her work with Professor Kristin Lindgren’s course “Disability, Identity, Culture,” part of the 360° Program, “Identity Matters.” The cluster of three courses focuses on representations of illness and disability in the arts. Over fall break, Riva Lehrer and students in the 360 spent five days at Camphill Village, an intentional community in Kimberton, PA that includes adults with developmental disabilities. During the trip, students created textual and visual portraits of Camphill residents.

I spoke with student Sula Malina, BMC ‘17, about the class’ trip to Camphill Village and Riva Lehrer’s residency.

Can you tell me a little bit about the structure of the Camphill Village visit?

We visited Camphill for five days, from a Sunday to a Thursday, so we could get a glimpse of the most active days of the week for the villagers. Each of us were paired with a villager who had volunteered to take part in the experience, and we were meant to follow them around, either shadowing or helping out, with their various activities throughout the day. We stayed at a nearby camp, ate our breakfast there each morning, and then drove over to Camphill.

We also worked with our villagers and Riva on drawing, and followed them to their second work assignment of the day. We usually went back to our campsite for dinner, and then took about an hour to an hour and a half during which we reflected on our day and our relationships with our villagers.

"Lynn Manning: Comet," by Riva Lehrer. 2007.

“Lynn Manning: Comet,” by Riva Lehrer. 2007.

How did you go about creating the visual and textual portraits of the residents of Camphill?

Before we took our trip, Riva came to visit our classes several times. We worked on a number of different projects—we drew our younger bodies, we did writing exercises, and we drew our “fantastical bodies” (if our bodies could represent literally all of the strengths we wished to have). We worked outside of class on realistic self-portraits, and the first night there, Riva gave us a crash course on anatomy and facial structure so we could revise the self-portraits.

We had discussed how we were going to create portraits of the Camphill residents, and had decided that we wanted to represent the many interesting and amazing facets of our partners—either literally or symbolically. When we first got together with our partners in the drawing space, we asked each other questions to get to know each other and each other’s interests better. We then discussed with Riva how we could put all of their many interesting sides into a portrait, cohesively. From then on, we worked each day on developing those ideas—first sketching lightly, then defining our lines, and finally, adding color. While we worked on this, our partners worked on portraits of us and of anything else they wished to draw. When we were finished with our stay at Camphill, we held a sharing circle with the 360 students and our partners, and explained each piece of art we had created.

What was particularly exciting or challenging for you?

I learned a great deal from visiting Camphill, and from working with Riva. As far as drawing goes, I am not much a visual artist, and I’ve never been very interested in learning. However, I found myself dramatically improve as I went from the first draft of my self-portrait to my more guided, accurate draft. Frankly, it was inspirational. I had never realized I could improve at anything that much in such a short period of time, and that was certainly thanks to Riva’s teaching. After that, I was incredibly excited to work on drawing each day, especially with our new villager friends.

"Mom," a self-portrait by Riva Lehrer. 1997.

“Mom,” a self-portrait by Riva Lehrer. 1997.

The Camphill visit itself was emotional and complicated. All of us went into the trip needing a real break from a very emotional and rigorous set of classes, and having already spent a little too much time together. So spending each night in the same cabin put even more strain on that relationship. Somehow, though, we ended up closer than ever. I think this was due, in part, to the fact that we all changed so much, on a very personal level, from working with our partners and observing the functioning of Camphill. Most of us had had minimal experience working with individuals with developmental disabilities, so this was certainly an exercise in compassion and understanding, as well as patience. We really did have to be “on” all the time—interacting not just with new people, but with people who held conversations in very different ways than many of us were used to. Adapting to this was certainly challenging, but incredibly rewarding as well. By the end of the trip, we all felt incredibly deep connections with our villagers, and many tears were shed during the final circle share.

Thanks so much, Sula!

Make sure to stop by Riva Lehrer’s talk at 4:15 this Thursday in Stokes 102!

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Play with your Art (Crosslisted: CRYPTIC/CORRUPT)

For the most part, if you’re a college student now, you’re a generation that grew up post-arcade. There was one relatively near where I grew up that was a hotspot for birthday parties, but we never went just to hang out some afternoon. I’m told they used to be dark dens of teenage mischief-making—mazes of weird and inscrutable games, screens smudged with grease, air heavy with smoke… Obviously the arcade has changed—the one I remember is gone (replaced by laser tag, I think? Not all history is progress)—but this figure of the arcade sticks with us, a tangle of metaphorical cables, an unidentifiable stain on the wall-to-wall carpeting of our minds.

I’m running a Student Seminar called Decoding Videogames, in which we attempt to critically analyze games through their outward-facing content and internal mechanics. For Crosslisted last Friday, we decided to display some of the games we’re looking at to the community, for their own investigation. We set up a plastic dining table and covered it in machines: mostly macbooks, a thinkpad, and a couple tablets. Briefly (from noon to one) the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery Lounge played host to Cryptic/Corrupt, a collection of unusual videogames. There was also a box of pastries. Among the inedible delicacies available to passers-by were:

Nidhogg

I suspect Nidhogg drew the most eyes—its retro-styled graphics are chunky and colorful, and we had it up on a TV surrounded by leather couches. The one-on-one sword-fighting game can be controlled with just two buttons and a directional pad, but the game underneath has enough tactical “I know that you know that I know that you know…” that it doesn’t just look like fencing, it’s something of a digital cousin at a deeper mechanical level.

868-Hack

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An iOS game almost like solitaire chess—if you’re not thinking a couple moves ahead, you won’t make it terribly far. The developer, Michael Brough, is way into letting the mechanics of his games slowly reveal themselves to the player. They’re hard—because they refuse to be understood at first glance—but enticing—because you’re learning more about how they work with every move.

Purgateus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’d initially talked to James about including Proteus, but decided almost last minute that a mod might be more interesting. There’s a huge thread about modding Proteus on one of my favorite game-making community websites, makega.me. Where Proteus is a bright and gleeful first-person island-wanderer (FPIW?), Purgateus takes a slower, darker tone. The trees are burned out, the sky is grey, the graveyards seem more somber.

howling dogs
I’ll recommend this game forever. It’s two or three years old by now, but still one of the best things I’ve ever played. When Richard Hofmeier won IGF 2011 for Cart Life, he decided he’d had enough publicity and converted the booth for his game into a spray-painted display for this one. To compare its author, Porpentine, to Borges and Calvino might feel to you like blasphemy, but if we’re forming a new canon, she’s part of it. If I didn’t think assigning genre were too restrictive, I might call it sci-fi magical realism.

SpyParty

If you’ve ever been at a party and felt like the most uncool person in the room, you have an idea what SpyParty is like. As the Spy, you drink your drink and time your conversation so you can look like a computer player, and as the Sniper, it’s your job to find the party-goer who looks a little too human and shoot them. SpyParty is played on two different computers over the internet, and had some internet-related troubles during our event—Charles ran to get ethernet cables to see if we could connect them via LAN, we tried a few different networks, and unfortunately nothing really worked.

Tarantella Sicilienne
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This is another game from a makega.me event, this time a month-long event where games were made based on songs. Thecatamites put together a 11-game summer jams mixtape, and this game stands out as the most immediately readable (which may not be saying all that much). It’s about the daily hardships of peasant life, dealing with loss, and the unstoppable force of war. That’s a lot to pack into a 5-minute flash game, but thecatamites pulls it off without a hitch.

and as an Honorable Mention: 74: 78: 68
Again because of our internet issues and last minute laptop substitutions, this game didn’t quite make it to the table. If you’re a brave soul, and don’t mind possibly crashing your browser, I recommend you give it a go. The goal is to make enough instances of yourself that the game’s frame-rate drops to zero, which, weirdly enough means the game is easier the older your computer is.

And that was our little arcade, hopefully a fun time for all who stopped by. I also hope you’ll check out Crosslisted events in the future—there’s one every Friday at Noon right between the Coop and the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery. Next week, 11/21, Ghosts in the Archive: A conversation on photography, performance, and the Ghost Dance religion with Assistant Professor of English Lindsay Reckson and Emma Lumeij ’16

Maybe I’ll see you there!

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Spring 2015 Courses by the Hurford Center

Hello there! As you scroll through the course catalog this week, contemplating which classes to take, consider the classes sponsored or supported by the Hurford Center!

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Affirmations of Life: Lucretius, Spinoza, and Nietzsche in the eyes of Gilles Deleuze
M 1:30-4
Peace, Justice, and Human Rights / Independent College Programs

Roy Ben-Shai, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor of Peace, Justice, and Human Rights

Reading Lucretius’ philosophical poem On the Nature of Things, Spinoza’s Ethics, and Nietzsche’s The Gay Science, alongside interpretative essays by Gilles Deleuze, we will discover an alternative trajectory in the history of philosophy that has been seldom recognized as such. This subversive tradition is bound to challenge some of our deepest held convictions and instincts, since it promises emancipation from evil, injustice, and suffering, not by changing the world or the way we live but by unwaveringly affirming world and life as they are.

More info: rbenshai@haverford.edu

thumbnail-1Anarchisms: Old and New
7:30-10:00pm
POLSH306B01

Andrew Cornell, Visiting Assistant Professor of American Studies and Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, Hurford Center

An inquiry into anarchist political thought and action from the 19th to the 21st century. We will study anarchist views on human nature, democracy, capitalism, feminism, imperialism, and ecology, comparing them with liberal and Marxist perspectives.

Prerequisite: Limited to juniors and seniors. One political science course or consent of the instructor. Enrollment limited to 15 students.

More info: acornell@haverford.edu

thumbnail-3Advanced Documentary Production (ICPRH343B01)
1:30-4:00
Required weekly film screenings Th 7:00-9:00

Taught by Vicky Funari, Artist in Residence

This studio class will explore the craft of documentary filmmaking beyond the basics. Students will produce fully-developed short documentaries. We will focus on how to translate a non-fiction idea into a time-based media piece with a clear visual and aural aesthetic and a narrative structure. Projects may be generated specifically for this class or may arise from and engage with students’ ongoing scholarly work. Students will further their proficiency in camera work, sound recording, lighting, and editing. The course will also cover some basic producer’s skills: proposal writing, rights and releases, and current trends in distribution. 
Through this semester’s films and readings, we’ll explore three current tendencies in documentary practice: 1) sensory and immersive explorations; 2) community representations; and 3) the expanding use of the conventions of fiction: reenactments, performance, and docufiction.

Prerequisites: One introductory video production class or equivalent experience. Students should have basic competency with prosumer video cameras and either Final Cut Pro 7 or Adobe Premiere. Enrollment limited to 15.

Contact: vfunari@haverford.edu

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Film on Photography
Independent College Programs / Crosslisted with Film Studies
Tu/Th 10am to 11:30am Lecture 
Th 2:30pm to 4pm Laboratory

John Muse, Visiting Assistant Professor of Independent College Programs

A theoretical and practical study of films that explicitly feature photographs as evidence, as icons, as memento mori, or as technical and formal resources. Through careful viewing films, close reading of relevant texts, and substantial lab work on video production techniques, we will consider how particular films constitute and stage the relation between photography and film.

Contact: jmuse@haverford.edu

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Throwback Thursday 12

Hello y’all!

I’m here with the first Throwback Thursday of this year! Today we’re taking a look at the Lutton Memorial Fund for Performance and what Micah Walter ’14 did with the funding for his senior thesis.

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Micah, a music and computer science major, wrote an original vocal composition which was performed by professional singers with the support of the Lutton Fund. The performance, called “Vespers,” was held in Founders Great Hall.

The deadline for this year has already passed, but if you are an artist, performer, filmmaker, etc., and want to learn more about how you can apply for funding, check out the link below!

www.haverford.edu/HCAH/center/programs_and_grants/student_funding.php

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Anna M.

 

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THE NEW JAMES HOUSE: a tour!

Welcome to a tour of the newly renovated and updated James House! Enjoy the virtual tour by Courtney Lau ’17, a member of the James House board! Don’t forget to turn up the volume.

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“The Spiritual Garden” comes to a close

On the last day of “The Spiritual Garden,” Prof. Hee Sook Kim was kind enough to answer some questions I had about the exhibit.

“Transformations” by hee sook kim

1) What do you feel are the advantages and disadvantages of the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery space, especially pertaining to the display of your work?

I did not feel any disadvantage in the space at all. Perfectly happy.

2) What are the connections between your exhibit in the gallery and the class you teach?

It is a a great tool to have my work at the gallery so that students can see the work in person to learn about the creative process on their own, along with inspirations they can have through my work. Students are the web generation who grew up looking at images online conveniently instead of going to galleries and museums. This convenience and aloof experience are unknown disadvantages for them.

3) How does the experience of having your work exhibited at Haverford compare to its exhibition in numerous other places?

It has the advantage of reaching out to the community and meeting people who otherwise would not encounter my work and get to know me.

“The Spiritual Garden” at the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery closes today after a thoroughly beautiful five-week run.

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(IR)REVERENCE: Interview with Mellon Creative Residents Chika Unigwe and Niq Mhlongo

Mellon Creative Resident Chika Unigwe

Mellon Creative Resident Chika Unigwe

Fifty years ago, Chinua Achebe wrote the landmark novel Arrow of God. Next week, October 6-9, the Tri-Colleges will host the conference (Ir)reverence in celebration of this anniversary, featuring Mellon Creative Residents Chika Unigwe and Niq Mhlongo.

Chika Unigwe is the author of On Black Sisters’ Street, which won Nigeria’s biggest literary prize, the NLNG Prize for Literature. She has written in both English and Dutch. Niq Mhlongo is the author of the novel Dog Eat Dog. The Spanish translation, Perro come perro, won the 2006 Mar de Letras prize.

We caught up with these two writers for a sneak peak on the conference. To hear more, come to their writing workshop and panel discussion.

Mellon Creative Resident Niq Mhlongo

Mellon Creative Resident Niq Mhlongo

Mellon Creative Residencies: Why do you think readers are still attracted to Arrow of God fifty years after publication?

Chika Unigwe: Achebe’s writing is timeless. Arrow of God, like the best of his writing, is written in an elegant, warm tone even while it deals with very serious themes, so it is very easy to draw readers in. The effects of colonization are still with us in Nigeria in many different ways, and so Arrow of God remains relevant.

Niq Mhlongo: In Arrow of God, I think Achebe had effectively showed that literature can be used to tell the African story from an African perspective. He had successfully demonstrated to readers that literature can be used as a weapon to restore or regain people’s lost identity, self-respect, and dignity. He does this by showing readers in human terms what happened to them and what they had lost.

Personally, I subscribe to the notion that a novelist can be a teacher, an idea brought forward by Achebe himself. Like Achebe, I’m of the opinion that no matter what our history has been, our destiny is tied to what we create today. This is the reason I think Arrow of God’s relevance is timeless.

MCR: Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

Niq: No, I didn’t know I was going to be a writer. I grew up wanting to be a rich and successful person. Success then meant that I would be married with kids, driving a beautiful car and having a big house. My role models then were lawyers and doctors in my township of Soweto because they were rich. I envied their lifestyles, the way they talked, and the way they were so very important in the community. For example, during apartheid times, doctors were important figures, as they would heal wounded political activists. Lawyers were also important, as they defended the people that were always wrongfully accused and imprisoned by the apartheid government. I wanted to be like them. That is partly why I studied law at the university. Writing interrupted these dreams by choosing me, and I obeyed. I had to sacrifice law at the end, and I don’t regret not being a lawyer.

MCR: Has your writing been received differently in the different countries that you’ve lived in?

On Black Sisters Street, by Chika Unigwe

On Black Sisters Street, by Chika Unigwe

Chika: I believe that people do not read in a vacuum. Our response to a particular piece is influenced by our environment, culture and background. I notice that while readers in Nigeria are shocked, for example, that my women in On Black Sisters Street knowingly choose the sex trade as a means of breaking out of poverty, my Belgian readers, for example, are more shocked at the fact that I insinuate that Belgian police officers are corrupt enough to collude with pimps to keep victims of the sex trade enslaved.

MCR: Who were some of your most important literary influences?

Niq: I grew up reading everything in the African Writers Series. Actually, I would say I was very biased in terms of what I read. So I read Achebe, Ngugi wa Thiongo, Oyono, Ayi Kwei Armah, Camara Laye, Eskia Mphahlele, Buchi Emecheta, Dambudzo Marechera, Hove, Peter Abrahams, Sembene Ousmane, Mwangi, etc. These were all writers that were published in the African Writers Series, and they were my early influences. Then there were writers like Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, George Orwell, George Lamming, who I also discovered along the way and who also played a role.

MCR: How do you decide which language to write a particular story in?

Chika: English is the more natural language for me to write in. I came to Dutch as a young adult and only began writing in it out of necessity because of where I lived, and because I wanted to get noticed. It was my first short story written in Dutch that got me a Belgian publisher. When I write in Dutch, my sentences are clipped and follow a strict grammatical structure. I cannot (perhaps ‘dare not’ is a better term) play with words; language becomes this solid structure I cannot bend because I am too scared to move away from the ‘straight and narrow path.’  I find it quite frustrating. One can only play with a language when one is at ease in/with it; when one understands all its nuances; when one isn’t second-guessing oneself all the time. It is not a comfortable way to write fiction.

MCR: Are there any themes or questions that you find yourself returning to in your writing?

Dog Eat Dog, by Niq Mhlongo

Dog Eat Dog, by Niq Mhlongo

Niq: I think many people think that the theme of apartheid is the theme of the past. I differ from those people. Apartheid is the theme of the past, present, and future. Whatever themes I’m addressing in my novels, be it HIV/AIDS, xenophobia, homophobia, unemployment, inequality, corruption, teenage pregnancy, drug abuse, and so on, I find these themes linked to apartheid. I find myself returning more often to apartheid, as it is one of those unresolved haunting themes.

MCR: What keeps you writing?

Niq: The urge of sharing stories and making sense of society is what keeps me writing. I feel as if my head is like a traveler’s suitcase. It is full of stories that are weighing me down. The moment I release a story for the world to read, I feel healthier and light again. That is what keeps me writing.

MCR: Do you have any advice for young writers?

Chika: Read widely. Be patient. Learn to accept criticism. Write.

Niq: Write as provocatively and as fearlessly as you can. Read more widely.

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Prof Roy Ben-Shai talks time, movies, and grocery stores

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Professor and Post-Doctoral Fellow Roy Ben-Shai is a busy man: in addition to teaching his class “Time After Time: Temporality in Film and Continental Philosophy,” he is part of the faculty seminar “Revision/How Time Passes” and is leading a Crosslisted event tomorrow, “The Politics of Nihilism”.

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Prof. Ben-Shai has lived in Paris, New York, and Tel Aviv – as well as Iceland and Mexico – and so I was compelled to ask him what he thought about the suburbs, this landscape of the American Dream. He told me about his first encounter with the suburbs, a search for a grocery store on his first day here. He also told me that “Iceland was marvelous,” and that he was there at the time of the financial crisis: “Everything changed. The mood, atmosphere, the price of tomatoes.”

Prof. Ben-Shai’s class here at Haverford is a reflection upon the meaning of time, and an encounter with philosophical texts and films: “We’re not trying to match them, but to put them into dialogue with one another. The final project is to make a short film about time.”

I had to ask Prof. Ben-Shai if he wears a watch, given that he teaches about time. He replied, “I can’t not wear a watch, but I don’t know how much it’s a conscious decision. I have trouble with time. I’m worried that I’m behind on things or late, which I often am. Most philosophers would say clock time is not real time. It’s an abstraction or social substitute for the real experience of time. Not that I care about it, I’m just worried.” I can certainly sympathize. So what is real time, then? “That’s a good question. Real time … for me, it’s mostly the time of thought. The time that I have for myself, do the things that I enjoy doing and that’s kind of quality time, the rest of it is running, chasing after something.”

Next semester, Prof. Ben-Shai will be teaching a class on like, which “seems like a natural thing to follow time.” The class will once again put philosophers in dialogue with films – tentatively, The Tree of Life, Crash, and Fight Club, along with Lucretius, Spinoza, and Nietzsche. Spoiler alert: of the options, Fight Club is his favorite movie, but Lucretius is his favorite philosopher.

If you would like to discuss time, politics, grocery stores, or living in Paris with Prof. Ben-Shai, we hope to see you at tomorrow’s Crosslisted in front of the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery at 1 pm tomorrow!

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