Multiple things that are interesting

by roadsideservice

In lieu of writing a thoughtful post – as this blog so deserves – here are a bunch of things I think are awesome.

Walter Benjamin

One Way Street: Fragments for Walter Benjamin (1993)

Duration: 58 min.
Directed by John Hughes

One way street explores the life and work of German Jewish critic and philosopher, Walter Benjamin, who died escaping the Gestapo in 1940. Although Benjamin’s work is little known in this country, he is regarded in Europe as one of the most influential figures in 20th Century thought.

One way street provides clear and accessible introductions to some of the central ideas in Benjamin’s writings. Expert commentary from a range of English scholars situate Benjamin’s work in the context of their time and evoke a sense of the excitement that his work has generated. A heightened visual style, montage structure and strong musical treatments correspond in evocative and powerful ways with the concerns and the strategies of Benjamin himself.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

(hat tip here and here)


Surfing Jews

Surfwise, 2008

Doc Paskowitz went to Stanford to become an MD, was successful, but (after introducing surfing to Tel Aviv) packs it all in to go surfing with his family. Part road movie, part surf flick, part doco about cultish behaviour. This is the trailer and it is available via torrents, if that’s your thing.


Judith Butler of Hannah Arendt

Judith Butler, ‘I merely belong to them’, London Review of Books

The Jewish Writings by Hannah Arendt, edited by Jerome Kohn and Ron Feldman
Schocken, 559 pp, $35.00, March 2007, ISBN 978 0 8052 4238 6

A bit that I liked:

Both the tone and substance of Arendt’s argument raise questions about her understanding of Jewish belonging. What did she mean by saying she was a Jew as a matter of course, beyond dispute or argument? Was she saying she was only nominally a Jew, by virtue of genetic inheritance or historical legacy, or a mixture of the two? Was she saying that she was sociologically in the position of the Jew? When Scholem calls her a ‘daughter of our people’, Arendt sidesteps the attribution of kinship but avows her belonging: ‘I have never pretended to be anything else or to be in any way other than I am, and I have never felt even tempted in that direction. It would have been like saying that I was a man and not a woman – that is to say, kind of insane.’ She goes on to say that ‘to be a Jew’ is an ‘indisputable fact of my life’ and adds: ‘There is such a thing as a basic gratitude for everything that is as it is; for what has been given and not made; for what is physei and not nomo¯.’

Being a woman and being a Jew are both referred to as physei and, as such, naturally constituted rather than part of any cultural order. But Arendt’s answer hardly settles the question of whether such categories are given or made; and this equivocation hardly makes her position ‘insane’. Is there not a making of what is given that complicates the apparent distinction between physei and nomo¯? Arendt presents herself as a Jew who can and will take various political stands, whether or not they conform to anyone else’s idea of what views a Jew should hold or what a Jew should be. Whatever this mode of belonging might be for her, it will not involve conforming to nationalist political views. Moreover, it is difficult to read her response to Scholem as anything other than an effort to make sense of, or give a particular construction to, the physei that she is. And since, in the 1930s, she had subscribed to the idea that the Jewish people were a ‘nation’, and had even dismissed those Jews who held themselves aloof from this idea, one has to wonder: what happened to Arendt’s views of the nation and of modes of cultural belonging between the 1930s and the mid-1960s?

Throughout The Jewish Writings, Arendt struggles with what it means to be Jewish without strong religious faith, and why it might be important to distinguish, as she does, between the secular and the assimilated Jew. She does, after all, mark herself as a Jew, which constitutes a failure of assimilation (the task of which is to lose the mark altogether). In an unfinished piece dated around 1939, Arendt argues that Zionism and assimilationism emerge from a common dogmatism. Assimilationists think that Jews belong to the nations that host them (the anti-Zionist philosopher Hermann Cohen wrote at the turn of the 20th century that German Jews were first and foremost German and could thrive and receive protection only within a German state), whereas Zionists think the Jews must have a nation because every other nation is defined independently of its Jewish minorities. Arendt rebukes them both: ‘These are both the same shortcoming, and both arise out of a shared Jewish fear of admitting that there are and always have been divergent interests between Jews and segments of the people among whom they live.’ In other words, living with others who have divergent interests is a condition of politics that one cannot wish away without wishing away politics itself. For Arendt, the persistence of ‘divergent interests’ does not constitute grounds for either the absorption or the separation of national minorities. Both Zionists and assimilationists ‘retain the charge of foreignness’ levelled against the Jews: assimilationists seek to rectify this foreignness by gaining entrance into the host nation as full citizens, while Zionists assume that there can be no permanent foreign host for the Jewish people, that anti-semitism will visit them in any such arrangement, and that only the establishment of a Jewish nation could provide the necessary protection and place.

(hat tip dave slucki)


Hitler cops it

13 fictional characters beat up Hitler



TimTum – A Trans Jew Zine

(hat tip vlada)


Familial Homophobia

A pretty wonderful lecture by Sarah Schulman on familial homophobia, shunning, silence and the like.


Northern Territory Intervention

Al Jazeera doco/report on the NT intervention. Pretty great stuff, including social workers putting their foot in it.

“It’s not personal. You know, it’s not personal. It’s actually about government policies and legislation and our job is just to explain those as best as we can.”


Aamer Rahman, Fear of a Brown Planet

Aamer’s Christmas wishes to Andrew Bolt. This is so fucking awesome, make sure you watch this.


Racism in Australian universities

NTEU report here




The Ladies of Colour Agency’s “Exotic Escape”

Captured in the exotic east to excite the intrigue of the civilised world, three deadly creatures pace their steel cages. The white man’s burden of taming the wild beasts has failed after much loss of blood and limb. Subsisting on a meager diet of white bread and leftovers, these exotic curios bide their time for the perfect escape… With fang, claw, cunning and rage, the creatures break out and unleash their lethal vengeance on their captors. Like a pestilence, their wrath shall spread across the civilised world, which lies trembling in the face of such peril.

From Arlene TextaQueen! Poster series here


The Tall Man

Doco on police violence and the death of Cameron Doomadgee on Palm Island, leading to riots. This looks so amazing.


Dude Magazine

Awesome new magazine. Check it out.

DUDE magazine explores sex, relationships, bodies and diversity between transguys and the wider community. Our specific goal is to facilitate smoother, less awkward interactions between transguys and other people; particularly so we can all enjoy hotter, safer sex in more places, more often, with more people!

Sex represents an intersection of bodies, gender, identity and desire which intrigues us, not just because sex for transguys is underrepresented, but because erotic encounters can be seen as extreme and explicit examples of general interactions we experience every day – with a potential and capacity for awkwardness, intimacy, confrontation, education, adoration.

DUDE recognizes and relishes that masculinity is nebulous, and that our relationships to it can be divergent, contradictory and ambiguous.

Check out the hot lads on the cover of the first issues here

Woody Guthrie


Guthrie’s Jewish lyrics can be traced to the unusual collaborative relationship he had with his mother-in-law, Aliza Greenblatt, a prominent Yiddish poet who lived across from Guthrie and his family in Brooklyn in the 1940s. Guthrie – the Oklahoma troubadour – and Greenblatt – the Jewish wordsmith – often discussed their artistic projects and critiqued each other’s works, finding common ground in their shared love of culture and social justice, despite very different backgrounds. Their collaboration flourished in 1940s Brooklyn, where Jewish culture was interwoven with music, modern dance, poetry and anti-fascist, pro-labor activism.


Woody Guthrie wrote Hanukkah songs for parties at the local Jewish community centers, he wrote songs about Jewish history and spiritual life and about World War II and the anti-fascist cause.

Totally forgot to post this on Chanukah! It is totally awesome though:

Hannuka Dance, Woody Guthrie

All you fascists bound to lose, Woody Guthrie

Some other tunes


Things I cannot say to you, Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz