So I have cold and am home zoned out and useless, but my wonderful husband was in line at 4 am with nearly a hundred others at Amoeba records Hollywood. (I would have no such patience), anyway, when he came home he had this lovely nugget for me— Velvet Undergound’s Loaded on pink and get splatter vinyl!
Thank you, Boo! OXO
Awesome! Got myself a copy, too. Happy Record Store Day!
Have you ever had trouble concentrating in the office as people walk by and glance at you? Do you come off as unfriendly or aloof, when you’re really just focusing on your work?
Dr. Hirotaka Osawa from Tsukuba University, in Japan, has developed a new wearable device to help us with something called “emotional labor.” His idea is that people could adopt cyborg technology to increase the emotional comfort of those around us. In this case, the device is a crazy pair of glasses that display eyeballs on their lenses.
The device’s virtual eyes naturally follow people and movement, making it appear as though you’re friendly and approachable, even if you’re too busy doing something else or too tired to actually look friendly and approachable.
"This emotional support reduces a user’s cognitive load for social manners," Osawa says.
The urge to subjugate oneself to a crueler, higher power is a theme that is shared by literature as distinct and divergent as the Old Testament and the works of French provocateur Jean Genet. However, the latter is imbued with a queer perspective absent in the Bible, making it a more compelling inspiration for my work.
Genet’s only film, 1950’s “Un Chant d’Amour,” is set in a French prison. Intended as a “porno” film for rich homosexuals, the film is hardly pornographic by today’s standards but remains an important piece of art that addresses the frustration, boredom, and pathos of being locked away, and documents how all moments are constantly observed by the state.
With my latest series, Les Fleurs du Mâle, I pay homage to Genet’s film and his book “The Thief’s Journal.” While Genet’s work is over half a century old, its core themes of intimacy, violence, and the state’s abuse of power are as relevant as ever.
In his works, Genet is subversive in his desire to please those who would punish him, to revel in his powerlessness, and in so doing take ownership of his own life by perverting the power structure. In recent years we’ve witnessed in much of Western culture the political and social “mainstreaming” of gay pride festivals and laws passed to grant marriage rights to gays. But it is not lost on me that homosexuals still are—and very likely always will be—on the receiving end of power’s whims. Access to the same human rights our straight counterparts enjoy—with all their associated financial, legal, and social benefits—is something that is still subject to a vote.
In Les Fleurs du Mâle, I create a prison that echoes Genet’s in order to acknowledge my dependency on the state’s largesse, the warning to not bite the hand that feeds me too hard, lest the state change its mind and find me a criminal yet again. Les Fleurs du Mâle honors the desire to raise up the underclass by honoring these prisoners who transcend their own humiliations in small, important, even beautiful and fragile ways—the sharing of cigarette smoke through prison walls or the halo of flowers on a prisoner’s head, for instance. It illustrates that desire, in the end, is stronger than the need to control desire; the prisoner learns how to take his pleasures, despite the threats made by the state.
Les Fleurs du Mâle is undeniably queer work – a reminder that some of us are still subversive and that, underneath our nice new laws, all gays are under observation and “barely” accepted. We still must fight for our survival. I come back to Genet in my work because he was the progenitor of the modern queer movement – the absolute negation of what straight society said was permissible. This work shines a light on the power that desire has over us, regardless of how society would integrate us and groom us to be “desire-less.”