Monthly Archives: December 2010

a poet’s dream: dispatch from the brooklyn blizzard

dear readers,

the landscape is transformed, snowy drifts, a poet’s dream.  my mom and dad just left this morning, i’m at a cafe on cortelyou, and on my way here it was easy conversation with neighbors i’d never met before, something about being snowed it makes the hard of the city soften every so quietly.  here in the cafe folks are talking about bloomberg with derision, but i can’t say that we mind the chance to slow it down.  i will post more later, especially when cable vision gets its act together and repairs internet service to brooklyn.  but here’s a poem to walk with, on this ski slope called the sidewalk.

roopa's annual holiday session, that's my moms, kyle on my left and laju on the right

famous and her girl, la, and my dad chilling by the tree

 

 

brooklyn blizzard

a poet’s dream

sidewalk scoops of vanilla ice cream

mom and dad and 15 friends came through

24 hour brunch see cuz the trains aren’t running

and now we’re slumber party pontificating

debating on the merits of administrations, race, class and nations

we are singing rumi and hindi and lena horne around the sparkling tree

representing brazil, puerto rico, lebanon, the mid-west, india, nola, cali

and i could go on

this is america

difference is our song

and we sure did sing

moms and me bring

a new recipe to this thing

called love

everything is not what is seems

and i don’t know everything

but i’m learning when i need

to bleed and what i need to read

so i could be up to speed on taking shape

woman take shape is all i hear

when i take my prayer to the mirror

and blow

gale force winds

and powder, sugar dreams

into watertight seams

*

stay tuned dear reader,

roopa

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merry christmas: best selling words on good and evil

Dear Readers,

I’m in the subway, still a little dewey and aglow from the Bikram yoga class, Souls of Mischief on the ears and Khalil Gibran’s, The Prophet in my hands.  This profound and succinct Lebanese poet is hailed as the most widely read writers in the history of the world, behind only Shakespeare and Lao Tzu.  It was this section, On Good and Evil, that’s been echoing in my head like a sick break.  Lines like this got me shaking my head in recognition, “But you who are strong and swift, see that you do not limp before the lame, deeming it kindness.”  I’m sharing the whole section here, on this holiday of triumph.  Trumpets.  Gabriel.  Angels.  Be with us.

*

From Khalil Gibran’s, The Prophet.

And one of the elders of the city said, “Speak to us of Good and Evil.”

And he answered:

Of the good in you I can speak, but not of the evil.

For what is evil but good tortured by its own hunger and thirst?

Verily when good is hungry it seeks food even in dark caves, and when it thirsts, it drinks even of dead waters.

You are good when you are one with yourself.

Yet when you are not one with yourself you are not evil.

For a divided house is not a den of thieves; it is only a divided house.

And a ship without rudder may wander aimlessly among perilous isles yet sink not to the bottom.

You are good when you strive to give of yourself.

Yet you are not evil when you seek gain for yourself.

For when you strive for gain you are but a root that clings to the earth and sucks at her breast.

Surely the fruit cannot say to the root, “Be like me, ripe and full and ever giving of your abundance.”

For to the fruit giving is a need, as receiving is a need to the root.

You are good when you are fully awake in your speech,

Yet you are not evil when you sleep while your tongue staggers without purpose.

And even stumbling speech may strengthen a weak tongue.

You are good when you walk to your goal firmly and with bold steps.

Yet you are not evil when you go thither limping.

Even those who limp go not backward.

But you who are strong and swift, see that you do not limp before the lame, deeming it kindness.

You are good in countless ways, and you are not evil when you are not good,

You are only loitering and sluggard.

Pity that the stags cannot teach swiftness to the turtles.

In your longing for your giant self lies your goodness: and that longing is in all of you.

But in some of you that longing is a torrent rushing with might to the sea, carrying the secrets of the hillsides and the songs of the forest.

And in others it is a flat stream that loses itself in angles and bends and lingers before it reaches the shore.

But let not him who longs much say to him who longs little, “Wherefore are you slow and halting?”

For the truly good ask not the naked, “Where is your garment?” nor the houseless, “What has befallen your house?”

*

No wonder The Prophet is one of the best selling books of all time.

Merry Christmas folks.  I’m Hindu, with Buddhist and Santeria leanings, not even counting the philosophies of Sun Tzu and Rumi, but that doesn’t mean I hate on the little-itty baby Jesus.  With holidays, I figure the more the merrier, my folks are over here tucked into my Brooklyn apartment, we’re about to head out into the sun filled chilly city.  Sending everyone love.  And fyi, Hot 97 is JAMMIN on the classic 90’s right now.

 

Peace,

Roopa

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the baldwin conference, nyu (feb, 2011)

hi guys,

here’s a peek at some of the scholarly work i’m doing.  generally i focus on hip hop and the south asian integration of american popular culture.  here’s an abstract i wrote for the upcoming james baldwin conference, “james baldwin’s global imagination,” at new york university (February 18-20, 2011).

Problems with Authority:  French New Wave Cinema and Hip Hop Cinema.

One of many civil rights era expatriates in Paris, Baldwin’s early 1950’s cultural and political fertilization of Left Bank radicalism helped propel French New Wave cinema to challenge aesthetic norms and state authority, qualities threaded all through the fabric of Hip Hop Cinema.  The French Nouvelle movement pushed aesthetics into new territories, but stayed politically centrist during the bloody years of the Algerian War. How is the separation of the aesthetic and the political avant-garde in the FNW movement a luxury, emblematic of the relatively privileged position of its pillared members?  Alternatively, the classic era of 90’s Hip Hop cinema fired round after round into an explicitly political, aesthetic avant-garde.

For example, director John Singleton was an auteur who in, Boyz in the Hood, told a story he was not supposed to tell in a narrative style that broke open new terrain in image and sound worlds. Like Jean-Luc Godard, this auteur was willing to destabilize status quo narrative expectations using a rebel sonic texture.

Towards finding this lineage, I pull two signatory aspects of French New Wave cinema towards parallel treatments within Hip Hop cinema.  Specifically, the paper delves into the French New Wave’s treatment of the personal through virtuoso beginning sequences, and their use of rebellious sonic textures. The paper deploys textual and contextual methodological practices, drawing from cultural studies and narrative analyses to develop a connection between French New Wave and Hip Hop cinema.

*

school has its perks, for sure.  merry xmas week!

 

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