The Pop-Intellectual

It has recently occurred to me that it may be time to further our distinctions of the types of intellectuals, or free-thinkers if you prefer *eyeroll*, that exist in today’s society. I believe we can now make three distinctions.

The Intellectual

Gazing into the intellectual abyss.

They tend to look like this dude and hang around libraries and university campuses. They tend to be gathering “data” in “the field” a lot. Often they’re professors or work at non-profit think tanks and research institutions. They like writing books and reeeeeeeealy long articles about reeeeeeally complex stuff and things, that most people don’t seem to care about, even though they probably should. They can be black too. They can be female as well. They can be non-binary. They tend not to have a lot of likes and and  followers, because, well, you don’t really get lots of likes for being an intellectual, and trying to further human thought. In fact, you generally get told you’re being negative, and should try some tummy tea, or re-aligning your chakras.

The Pseudo-Intellectual

I like to lump myself in here somewhere. Along with the knowledgeable artist , the investigative journalist, the weirdo activist at all the think tank events, who also raps, but also paints, and does community work in Mitchells Plain regularly.

Seeing as I’m making this up as I go, I should note here that when I define this, I’m not using the “Pseudo” part as an insult. It’s just to separate those who dabble in intellectualism (and dabble well), but don’t pursue it full time. You know, you’re Immortal Technique types. You’re highbrow creatives. People who engage with intellectualism regularly but don’t necessarily pursue it as a a career, and probably spend a little less time on campus and more on the internet selling you healthy super-foods, because they studied Botany in a past life or something. People in the economy of likes and followers, but not necessary down with it. People who write philosophical novels and stuff. That kind of thing.

Tariq’s new EP is a banger, and full of intellectual stuff and things.

The Pop-Intellectual

This is the designation I believe we used to give to the Pseudo-Intellectual, but the internet has given us a new breed of super super super mutant pseudo intellectuals, whom we shall refer to as Pop-Intellectuals.

The oh so desperate to be a free-thinker that I absorb everything pop culture tells me because I actually believe pop icons are intellectuals and/or free thinkers. Free thought can only come from those who are rich and famous. A professional philosopher could never have a free thought worth my time, but I better check Billboard’s No.1 pop track for my next dose of Epistemology.

The fake outragers. The, this deep issue is trending now, I better jump on it, and freak out on the internet quick, so I can get likes and more followers (okay fine, we all do that from time to time hehe).

The Pop-Intellectual in their natural habitat. Notice everything around them burns while they remain unperturbed. This is the blind confidence of one with complete faith in their favorite pop-icon, who has confirmed to them that everything is indeed, fine. No further research is required into the ramifications of being on fire if your pop-icon has confirmed to you that fire is harmless.

He Who Should Not Be Named and his cult following.  The type to  gleefully inform you that you can separate art from the artist, and think they’ve blown your mind. Really, I mean really? Wow I certainly never knew that, and I definitely don’t have my own mind, and my own thoughts that dictate when I will and will not decide to exercise my right to separate art from the artist. Oh yes I better listen to that thing you’re trying to force me to listen to, because, OMG, I can separate art from the artist. Amazing.

The Pop-Intellectual doesn’t seem to like books a lot, or the library, or even googling anything they talk about. This is because they apply no rigor to their alleged intellectualism. I mean, who needs research when celebrities are experts on every single topic that ever existed, like ever, since, like, the beginning of all time when the earth was flat and stuff.

They never dig their heels in on a single issue and see it through. They seem to believe they can solve complex issues like racism and sexism, by not going to Starbucks for a couple of days. They’re lazy about real issues. They need them to go away fast, so they can go back to posting about how woke they are, and throw in a misquote of a philosopher like a Ayn Rand (seriously…ewww, don’t abuse philosophy for your narcissism, it’s gross man).

As soon as their favorite pop-icon or corporation issues a weak apology, or new album, all is well, and justice has been restored to world. They take economic advice from famous fashion models. They take medical advice from reality stars. They always have the loudest mouth, but their utterings are void of substance. They’re, as Greg Puciato would say: a mouth without a heart – an action without meaning.

 

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Notes From A Presentation at The Luthuli Institute For Peace and Development

 

On Thursday 22 March 2018, The Albert and Nokukhanya Luthuli Peace and Development Institute launched, and held its first colloquium.  The topic of the colloquium was, Understanding The Culture of Violence as an Impediment to Development: Peace and Development as The Foundations For South Africa’s Future Advancement.

I was asked to do a presentation based on an article I published in The Thinker last year. You can find the article here: http://www.thethinker.co.za/resources/72%20THINKER.pdf. It’s called South Africa: A History of Cultural Violence.

The presentation and event in general went very well. It was empowering to interact and communicate with individuals of various ages and affiliations who share some common ideas and understanding.

Some difficult topics were discussed openly; many South Africans refuse to even accept, let alone even discuss some of these issues,  especially without degrading to name calling and insults.

Here are some things that were openly acknowledged , and discussed.

  • South Africa is a violent society. Both physically and structurally.
  • South African violence runs very deep historically and structurally.
  • The above point means there are no easy solutions to South African violence. Throwing police, PMCs, and military at everything just won’t cut it.
  • South Africa is an extremely racist, sexist, and classist society.
  • South African violence won’t go away if the above three issues, along with their nasty cousin inequality, are not meaningfully dealt with.
  • As Government and the Private Sector tend to fluctuate in their effectiveness, citizens likely need to take some matters into their own hands.
  • One such was is reaching out and interacting with Civil Society (we have various NGOs and activist groups) to heal South African society.
  • Strong Civil Society institutes may provide some kind of buffer against Government and Private Sector failure.
  • South Africans as a whole need to educate themselves more on peace studies, as well as learn how other societies with violent pasts, have instigated strong measures to ensure the cycle of violence and generational trauma does not ensue perpetually. Hint: there’s a reason America still has Nazis, while Germany does not. It’s pretty much because the Germans used their brains, and made Nazism illegal. Duh!

 

Here’s a link to the notes on my presentation. Oh, and don’t forget you can follow and support me directly via Patreon (it’s more music and fiction orientated currently), if you like what I do. Gotta throw that in there hehe! We still live in a capitalist society, and money doesn’t grow on trees. Meh!

Back 2 Basics Cultural Violence Presentation

Dilman Dila’s ‘The Trouble With Afrofuturism’

I just read Dilman Dila’s ‘The Trouble with Afrofuturism’ and found it quite poignant. It touches on a number of things that scratch around my mind when I hear the term. Such as, what does it actually mean? Really though? What does it mean? How broad is this thing, and as Dila notes, there’s almost a fanciful, one size fits all approach, where the definition varies according to what the user wants to describe as Afrofuturistic.

Definition arguments aside though Dila’s piece also made me think of the ‘one-way transaction’ style I feel Afrofuturism sometimes falls victim too. These are mostly behind the scenes, niggles, that industry personnel would be aware of, but consumers probably aren’t paying too much attention to.

For example the issue of Lina Iris Viktor, vs Black Panther & Co.  For those unaware, Viktor alleges her artworks were stolen for use in the music video ‘All The Stars’ by Kendrick Lamar and SZA. I would say she has a very strong case here, as she was contacted twice to participate, and declined.

If you’re not schooled on Entertainment Industry Bullshit 101, the general stealing process operates in this manner. First, you, Leviathan Artist Inc. contact lesser known artist and ask them to participate for A. Exposure or B. Peanuts. Said person declines your ridiculous offer, as they actually want to pay the rent, and/or highly value their work (as they should, they made it!). You, Leviathan Artist Inc. then hire other, probably even lessor known artist, and ask them if they can make something ‘similar’, usually taking precaution to remain in the grey area of copyright infringement just in case someone notices. This is mostly to avoid bad publicity. You don’t really have to worry about the legalities as you probably have more lawyers, and you can run a smear campaign claiming the artist is a bitter hater, whose own self-pity and mental illness is the reason they’re suing you. I’m not saying this is what went down in this case, it’s just how it generally goes down.

Anyway, industry politics (bullshit) aside, as noted in the piece:
“In an interview, Ms. Viktor said what matters to her most is the principle, not compensation. “Cultural appropriation is something that continually happens to African-American artists,” she said, “and I want to make a stand.”

Things get very strange here. A team consisting of African-Americans, making a movie that’s supposed to represent black excellence, and Afrofuturism I suppose, rip-off (allegedly…) a British-Liberian’s artwork? I find no better way to describe this scenario other than: a complete mindfuck.

There’s also that slightly colonial smell of claiming intellectual property, and narrative merely because you have the bigger gun. I don’t like that I sometimes observe a weird colonial type thing going on in the creation of Afrofuturist works. I also find myself constantly seeing the “I Have the Bigger Gun” phenomena in the juxtaposition between what African Spec Fic authors (or movie directors in Dila’s case) living in Africa can achieve versus what those living in more developed nations can.

It largely boils down to access: social capital; funds; decent infrastructure. The world has a hierarchy (even with the internet), so on average, there’s generally going to be more infrastructure to take advantage of, off the African continent. It is what it is. There’s just something very painful in that fact. Despite these optimistic Afrofutures (Afrofuturies? Afrofutury? Afrofuture`?) we might like to see, most Africans still have to leave the continent, and access Western infrastructures, in order for those very Afrofutures to reach your computer screen in the first place. It’s a biting irony…

This goes onto Dila’s discussion of the difficulties of imagining and ingesting Utopian Afrofutures when you actually live in Africa. Most of the daily experiences living in Africa are so far removed such Utopian concepts that you find yourself with Schizobrain, walking between fantasy ideals and real world realities. Dystopia might be a dead genre, but dystopia is largely what I see when walking the insanely unequal streets of South Africa, hence why I write a lot of it.

 I’m definitely on the fence about this whole Utopian Afrofuturism thing. I prefer a more Mamdani inspired interpretation. In a post from last year, I noted, contrary to what is often a Black African knee-jerk reaction to decolonization, that Mamdani suggests the future of Africa may not be a revert to traditional beliefs, and a throwing away of all Western influences. Instead he suggests, it may be a convergence of the two, which creates something new and unorthodox.

I feel somewhat the same about Afrofuturism at times. It may also be the South Africa in me, as we’re such a mishmash of Afro and Euro centrism, I find it difficult to turn off that lens. I was also not born in South Africa, so that strange limbo place between African and African diaspora is pretty much my comfort zone.

Either way, I believe a more realistic Afrofuturism might speak to the convergence of our current realities, and how we hope things might be. Maybe an African does create a new amazing technology that defies all expectations, and could save the entire continent, and turn it into a Utopia. But then again, maybe the West steals it from us, with the help of our limp politicians and we reap none of the benefits. Who knows?

 

Police Abuse and PTSD

Short article detailing police abuse during FeesMustFall last year, and resulting PTSD in students.

The article contains links to two documents that are probably well worth a read.

I touched on some of these abuses in a paper I wrote last year, published in The Thinker. The two documents in the article go into greater detail about protest protocol according to South African law, and have witness accounts of events from last year.

My research was largely based on news reporting from independent media, and conflict resolution theory, so there is a bit more meat in these documents from a law, and eye witness perspective.