Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

Trippiest Thing Around: Victorian Photocollage

Tim Burton’s hyper-stylized version of Alice in Wonderland is all the talk this weekend (if you don’t count the gay man’s Super Bowl, the Oscars). And those bold, crazed color schemes favored by Burton reminds me of these tantalizing, century-old photocollages on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

As noted in this slideshow on Slate, the fad had its origins in the detailed, startling drawings of human forms in works like Darwin’s On the Origin of Species (1859):

English ladies started cutting up photos of their friends and relations and pasting bits and pieces of them (particularly their heads) into alien landscapes and onto foreign bodies. Was it just a new pastime, like staging parties or playing the piano–yet another way for Victorian women to show off their class and their wits? Or was it more?

My favorite is a blue-hued collage of a butterfly with the faces of old white guys in the wings. It’s entitled “Untitled Page From the Madame B Album,” by Marie-Blanche-Hennelle Fournier, and created sometime in the 1870s.

The imagination of these everyday Victorian folks–oftentimes hampered by the stuffy privilege of the period–makes for an interesting study in contrasts. The predecessor/inspiration to great outsider artists like Henry Darger in the 70’s?

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Filed under: art, , , , , ,

Choose Your Own Apocalypse

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A fun and interactive tool for predicting the end of America: Slate‘s “Choose Your Own Apocalypse”. Writer Josh Levin researched the work of scholars detailing potential final moments for the grand ol’ U.S. of A. He came up with 144 possible scenarios for the impending end of the only remaining superpower.

The very cool tool also allows you to contrast possible end games, with live updates on its impending “doominess”.

My favorite part: you can filter the results by category, including “Politics”, “Culture”, “Sex”, and “Elderly”. Imagine if, by some kind of strange impulse–some collective lethargy–we just became too lazy to reproduce. The demise of the U.S.A. not by natural calamity or biological warfare, but because we all became disinterested in having sex.

I chose to end the world with swine flu, opt-in government, Bush’s “Axis of Evil”, bureaucracy, and “The End of History.” The game results analyzed me in this way:

You are a humanitarian internationalist. You’re convinced mankind will terminate America—but at least we won’t off ourselves in the process. You’ll know you’re right when: Everyone on Earth pledges allegiance to a world government; the feds default on the national debt.

Seems about right, considering how I waffle between misanthropy and camaraderie. I shudder to imagine the results if I’d chosen “Voluntary Human Extinction“.

Filed under: united states of america, war, , , , , ,

Black? Gay? Blacks vs Gays?

081113_hn_gaypowerexMany in the media have pointed toward two groups of voters who defeated gay marriage in California: members of the Mormon church and African Americans.

This first group, Mormons, I agree with–the church encouraged its members to contribute to the campaign, resulting in $22 million to end gay marriage (the most spent on any social issue in the United States).

The second group, however–African Americans–I’m not so sure I agree with.

The thrust behind this antagonism toward African Americans largely comes from exit polls that cite statistics such as this one about Prop 8 in California:

Whites and Asian-Americans, comprising 69 percent of California’s electorate, opposed Proposition 8 by a margin of 51 percent to 49 percent. Latinos favored it, 53-47. But blacks turned out in historically high numbers—10 percent of the electorate—and 70 percent of them voted for Proposition 8.

Drawing inferences from these numbers can be elusive. For example, African Americans are not a homogeneous group–they possess a variety of beliefs, morals, politics, and sexualities. Unlike Mormons, who possess a similar belief system, politics, and sexuality.

A surprising article in Slate this morning tries to break down why African Americans believe that homosexuality is a choice. Slate’s editors have chosen to analyze the loss of gay rights through the lens of African American prejudice. In his article, William Saletan cites the victory of Barack Obama and the confirmation of gay prejudice on election night. He then asks:

Why, then, are the people targeted by those laws supporting bans on same-sex marriage?The answer is: They think sexual orientation is different from race. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of a nation in which individuals would be judged not “by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

This kind of rhetoric–the choice of discourse itself–attempts to divide both the African American community, as well as African Americans and other ethnic groups. It’s a topic that encourages blame toward one ethnic group rather than finding those African Americans who support civil rights for all. It’s the same kind of institutionalized racism that pits minority groups against one another instead of encouraging them to unify, to collaborate, to strengthen their power through caucus rather than division.

Filed under: politics, , , , ,

Publications

BIOGRAPHY

RECENT PUBLICATIONS
» "Pinays," AGNI, Spring 2016
» "Dandy," Post Road, Spring 2015
» "Wrestlers," Fifth Wednesday, Spring 2014
» "Babies," Joyland, August 2011
» "Nicolette and Maribel," BostonNow, May 2007
» "The Rice Bowl," Memorious, March 2005
» "The Rules of the Game," Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images (Coffee House Press, June 2003)
» "Deaf Mute," Growing Up Filipino (Philippine American Literary House, April 2003)
» "Good Men ," Genre, April 2003
» "The Foley Artist," Drunken Boat, April 2002
» "Squatters," Take Out: Queer Writing from Asian Pacific America (Asian Am. Writers' Workshop, 2001)
» "Deaf Mute," The North American Review, Jan 2001
» "The First Lady of Our Filipino Nation," The Boston Phoenix, 1999
» "Paper Route," Flyway Literary Review, 1996
» "Brainy Smurf and the Council Bluffs Pride Parade," Generation Q (Alyson, 1996)
June 2019
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About Me

Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

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