Memento mori

A number of people have thought to deploy Susan Sontag’s thoughts on photography to think about Abu Ghraib, including Sontag herself in Sunday’s New York Times.

I’m not entirely happy with the interpretations I’ve read so far, and am penning something that will soon appear at the Voice of the Turtle. One of the better commentaries, though, is to be found in a soon-to-be published piece by Eric Cheyfitz, in which there’s a painful reminder of the genealogy of trophy photos of abused people of colour.

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Everything you wanted to know about Paul Wolfowitz

Today’s review of Fahrenheit 9/11 in the New York Times offers this tantalising morsel:

A particularly unappetizing spectacle in “Fahrenheit 9/11” is provided by Paul Wolfowitz, the architect of both the administration’s Iraqi fixation and its doctrine of “preventive” war. We watch him stick his comb in his mouth until it is wet with spit, after which he runs it through his hair.

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Brain Circulation

At the same Gracenet dinner that I met Paul, I learned a thing or two from the visiting speaker, AnnaLee Saxenian. The brain-drain of high-skill technology graduates from China and India to Silicon Valley is only half the story. The brains also go back home, taking their newfound ideas with them. Saxenian writes of “brain circulation”, the trans-Pacific process of cross-fertilization, through which Silicon Valley gets socially networked to urban centres throughout Asia.

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Found on a scrap of paper in a University of Cape Town filing cabinet, ca 1998

There have been many painful things happening at UCT. One of the most painful was the destruction of the jobs of hundreds of workers. When it wrote about this, the University Paper agreed that there was pain. But the only pain it mentioned was the pain of the Vice Chancellor [Mamphela Ramphele – partner of the late Steve Biko, key figure in the Black Consciousness movement, now a director at the World Bank], the person who insisted on that destruction. Showing that she was a ruthless manager won her some admirers and created new opportunities for her. But the Paper also told us about the workers who were being retrenched.

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