The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

May 14, 2010

New Video Release:


Okukin is a short, 9'23" video created from my recent work in Second Life.
There is a narrative among objects, slabs, planets, voices, bodies, and
images, some old, many new. The objects themselves have been created for
Okukin, which is filmed using the Beta 2 Second Life viewer release, in
order to take advantage of a number of new features.

The video opens on a scenic pouring-forth which changes in a few seconds
to planet surfaces and constructions which defy the laws of gravity,
opening on occasion to untoward vistas. The rest of the video develops
these vistas through symbolism and spoken or sung narrative that tends
towards a future anterior. The second video is a short test of emissions
that wasn't used in the final production, but is of great interest itself.
Perhaps I am becoming too literal; perhaps I am disappearing in these
works, which always seem on the verge of emergence, but never quite
coalesce into Being.

I hope to show this work at the June ELO conference in Providence, and
elsewhere of course. Participants, witting and unwitting, include Foofwa
d'Imobilite, Blue Carter, Kira Sedlock, and myself. Thanks to Fau
Ferdinand as well, for the use of the land in East Odyssey, as well as
Lizsolo and a number of people who helped with scripting.

(Please note, because of space limitations, some older work had to be
taken down from the website.)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 14 May 2010 19:51:58
From: moderator@PORTSIDE.ORG
Subject: In Arizona, Just Say No to Latino Heritage

In Arizona, Just Say No to Latino Heritage

By Eugene Robinson
May 14, 2010

At least we don't have to pretend anymore. Arizona's
passing of that mean-spirited immigration law wasn't
about high-minded principle or the need to maintain
public order. Apparently, it was all about putting
Latinos in their place.

It's hard to reach any other conclusion given the
state's latest swipe at Latinos. On Tuesday, Gov. Jan
Brewer signed a measure making it illegal for any
course in the public schools to "advocate ethnic
solidarity." Arizona's top education official, Tom
Horne, fought for the new law as a weapon against a
program in Tucson that teaches Mexican American
students about their history and culture.

Horne claims the Tucson classes teach "ethnic
chauvinism." He has complained that young Mexican
Americans are falsely being led to believe that they
belong to an oppressed minority. The way to dispel that
notion, it seems, is to pass oppressive new legislation
aimed squarely at Mexican Americans. That'll teach the
kids a lesson, all right: We have power. You don't.

Arizona is already facing criticism and boycotts over
its "breathing while Latino" law, which in essence
requires police to identify and jail undocumented
immigrants. Now the state adds insult to that injury.

The education bill begins with a bizarre piece of
nonsense, making it illegal for public or charter
schools to offer courses that "promote the overthrow of
the United States government." Then it shifts from
weird to offensive, prohibiting classes that "promote
resentment toward a race or class of people," that "are
designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic
group," and that "advocate ethnic solidarity instead of
the treatment of pupils as individuals." When you try
to parse those words, the effect is chilling.

Is it permissible, under the new law, to teach basic
history? More than half the students in the Tucson
Unified School District are Latino, the great majority
of them Mexican American. The land that is now Arizona
once belonged to Mexico. Might teaching that fact
"promote resentment" among students of Mexican descent?
What about a class that taught students how activists
fought to end discrimination against Latinos in Arizona
and other Western states? Would that illegally
encourage students to resent the way their parents and
grandparents were treated?

The legislation has an answer: Mexican American
students, it seems, should not be taught to be proud of
their heritage.

This angry anti-Latino spasm in Arizona is only partly
about illegal immigration, which has fallen
substantially in the past few years. It's really about
fear and denial.

About 30 percent of the state's population is Latino,
and that number continues to rise. This demographic
shift has induced culture shock among some Arizonans
who see the old Anglo power structure losing control.
It is evidently threatening, to some people, that
Mexican Americans would see themselves as a group with
common interests and grievances -- and even more
threatening that they might see themselves as distant
heirs to the men and women who lived in Arizona long
before the first Anglos arrived.

To counter the threat, solidarity among Mexican
Americans has to be delegitimized. The group itself has
to be atomized -- has to be taught to see itself as a
population of unaffiliated individuals. The social,
cultural and historical ties that have united people
across the border since long before there was a border
must be denied.

Every minority group's struggle for acceptance is
distinctive, but I can't avoid hearing echoes of the
Jim Crow era in the South. Whites went to great lengths
to try to keep "agitators" from awakening African
Americans' sense of pride and injustice. They failed,
just as the new Arizona law will fail.

It's important to distinguish between Arizona
officials' legitimate concerns and their illegitimate
ones. The state does have a real problem with illegal
immigration, and the federal government has ignored its
responsibility to enact comprehensive reform that would
make the border more secure. But Arizona is lashing out
with measures that will not just punish the
undocumented but also negatively affect Mexican
American citizens whose local roots are generations

The new education law is gratuitous and absurd. Arizona
can't be picked up and moved to the Midwest; it's next
to Mexico. There have always been families and
traditions that straddle the two societies, and there
always will be. Mexican Americans are inevitably going
to feel proud of who they are and where they came from
-- even if acknowledging and encouraging such pride in
the classroom are against the law.

You know kids. They'll just learn it in the street.


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