“Why Creative People Are Eccentric”

diego rivera mural from chipancingo. no reason really. but hey, rivera was creative, right? maybe even...eccentric?

Why Creative People Are Eccentric, the article is called,  http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-unleashed-mind and it closes with “well, let’s treat the freaks nice–if they’re productive–because they make things for our society.” Tzvetan Todorov says that sciencism, as a belief system, is more frightening than racism, because no one brags about being racist-ly minded and yet science often is used to construct elaborate and seemingly inarguable sets of data to maintain and reinforce oppressive frameworks. These days, of course, science operates less overtly. No one publishes papers on phrenology in the Scientific American anymore (thank god). But, the article above, is an example of the banal reinforcements that science, especially branches of science like neurology, psychology, genetics, and social sciences like anthropology (see Trinh T. Minh-ha for more on the latter), provide for modes of thinking that present a normal-ized Us against a diagnosable Them.

In the SA story, the author, Shelley Carson, points out that creative people often have eccentric thinking, fanciful beliefs, unusual perceptual experiences…believing their work is transmitted to them by other entities, dressing or behaving counter to cultural norms, etc. I don’t feel like analyzing the article, really, so i’m not working that hard here. But reading this, it’s not difficult to trace the line from here backwards to the more straightforward Western-Christian debunking of “heathen” beliefs, prominent during the hundreds of years of old-style colonial invasion (to be differentiated I suppose from current era colonial invasion, when god is mentioned less than “Freedom”, leading naturally to the question, “from what?”) based on the facts and proofs of the Christian bible. Read More

Toward an Expectation of Jewish Allyship in Radical Communities (with a lot of repurposed quotes from Trinh T. Minh-ha)

(All quotes from Woman, Native, Other* by Trinh T. Minh-ha)

Feeling especially struck by these lines as perceived through the lens of a Jew moving through left-wing subcultural circles, dominated by invisible(/visible) culturally Christian ideologies, prejudices and ways of being:

“An Asian American woman thriving under the smug illusion that I was not the stereotypic image of the Asian woman because I had a career teaching English at a community college. I did not think anything assertive was necessary to make my point…it was so much my expected role that it ultimately rendered me invisible…contrary to what I thought, I had actually been contributing to my own stereotyping…When the Asian American woman is lulled into believing that people perceive her as being different from other Asian women (the submissive, subservient, ready-to-please, easy-to-get-along-with Asian woman), she is comfortably content with the state of things.” –Minh-ha, quoting Mitsuye Yamada (elipses are Minh-ha’s, not mine.)

I think here especially about the pressure to come forth with an “appropriate” stance towards the state of Israel when identifying oneself as Jewish in radical-thinking and/or “anti-oppressive” social worlds. Sometimes this is spoken directly, other times, implied and waiting–as your listener scans the content of your stated relationship with cultural-religious background/identity for clues as to “what kind of Jew” you are.

The emotional impact here is further complicated when one is a Jew who feels themselves to be, in intent anyway, in solidarity with the struggle of the Palestinian people, who feels disturbed, frightened, demoralized, and “betrayed” (a word I believe should be used/read critically) by the actions of the Israeli government and those who back it…

Yet, if my requisite, demanded-expected statement falls into the party line, I have also inadvertently (or perhaps with concealed intent, submerged in the meat of internalized oppression) submitted myself to the hegemonic judgment as the “right” kind of Jew. Not the colonist, white-supremecist, hateful, conspiratorial, privileged-and-hiding-behind-a-mask-of-victimhood, holocaust-citing, manipulator-of-international-power, Fortune 500, sobstory, whiny, stingy, lying, paranoid Jew. No, I am a Good Social Justice Jew—a dying breed, surely, but, fighting with sweat and flying fists against the rigid generations of our parents-aunts-uncles-grandparents (traditional, bad-style Jews), we exist! we are here! we are loud! we know ourselves as separate from Those People!

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