Thursday, 13 July 2017

Reading response - Artistic Research in the Era of Globalization

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, a Fellow of Harvard University, wrote a book published in 2012 entitled, An Aesthetic Education in the Era of Globalization, a study of philosophic criteria for cultural discernment, its instruction, pertaining to worldwide economic processes. This is the summary of Chapter Sixteen, subtitled, “Imperative to re-imagine the Planet”.
Spivak, originally an educator in rural India recalled a speech he delivered at Stiftung Dialogik, an international civil society in Switzerland, in their series of presentations on refugees and immigrants. Her lecture became a renewed, global commitment to universal acknowledgement of Holocaust survivors’ memory. Vaguely described as community, resources, sustainability, ‘planetary’ is a situation of shared contentious issues to be addressed with challenging courses of action.
Spivak, born during WWll, her generation in India regarded that war as European because of the Holocaust, although a world war that became an device to end imperialism. Decolonization failed. That negotiated liberty is neocolonialism. She explained, significant Eurocentric economic migration affected consumer markets and from the fall of the Berlin Wall onwards, these demographics became unstable.
Her ability to contradict is especially available because Spivak is not an inherent member of sectors she critiques. She critiques the US and is not a US citizen, for example. She arrived in the USA in 1961, remains a resident alien or permanent resident, a designation that allows her to retain her Indian passport conceding “neighborliness rather than subjection” and allows objectivity.
Spivak explained the beginning of the evolution of Migration Studies as an academic sub-discipline, migration of people from countries other than their origin and displaced persons were not differentiated in the US and Europe. Europe is a conglomerate of small units each determined by its own colonial past, Switzerland being the exception, without a colonial background. European nations, including Switzerland allows “guest workers” adding that international aid / agricultural aid to support the growing populous.
Interpretive strategies are required to re-imagine the planet. Globalization, the imposition of the same system of exchange everywhere contradicts the otherness of cultural orientation.
Spivak suggested, the planet (which we inhabit) overwrite global (which we do not inhabit) that controls by digitally imposed variables. she determined this overwrite, replacement of old with new data, in the computer programming sense, a refreshed paradigm is needed for exchanges.

Referring to Charles Taylor’s "The Politics of Recognition", a Hegelian philosopher that wrote about a moral ideal, the subjectivity of culture, Spivak asserted, assumes the intellectual, political culture of Northwestern Europe was obliterated by imperialism. Spivak compared care with responsibly verses care as an obligation. She cited examples through history of how labour versus goodness view right and responsibility to work as the truth of being.
She contrasted views of nomads view of the earth, human habitation and work in community as planetary, collective responsibility as a human right. She says that learning the Aboriginal way of living as the ‘custodians’ of the planet was daily being compromised by the Development lobby’s drive to patent indigenous knowledge.

We are also reading one of Marx’s ‘subjunctive’ and very interesting formulas for the transition from capitalism to socialism. When we compare the world situation of Marx’s times to today, where there is a tremendous shift versus more capitalism and less social equality it is hard to imagine how mankind could possibly find ways out of this dilemma, where one percent of the world owns more than the other 99%. › Business › Savings

Debt and Study by Fred Moten and Stefano Haney

Die Schere zwischen arm und reich wird immer groesser. Rich countries profit from exploiting poorer countries, instead of giving and providing, the debt only rises and brings those who own into deeper and deeper debts. Resourses are exploited.

“Bad debt” is described as debt that cannot be repaid – debt as duty, as black commitment, queer promise, criminal liability. “Excessive debt, incalculable debt” is shared within communities and is a means of socialization.

Credit is asocial. It is means of business or community means to increase financial liability and diminish societal responsibility. Pairing debt with credit advances credit that can be expanded by debt. Credit is a means of privatization and debt as a means of socialization. Creditors want to destroy societal responsibility, the bad social debt that is widespread, in the shared state of indebtedness, people share, without wanting anything. Creditors keep track.

Students avoid credit. Credit offers to match credit for debt. Studying, the students builds debt they do not intend to pay. Debt cannot be forgiven. It can be forgotten and remembered.
Forgiven debt (unlike bad debt) is a means to restore credit, which is called “restorative justice”, but there is no compensation for communities suffering.

Only creditors forgive debt by offering credit, offering more from the source of the pain of debt. There is no justice for those suffering because the societal “bad debt” cannot be forgotten nor can it be paid. It cannot be forgiven.

A parallel example is described. An entity called “North” can be a person that spends with credit cards, becomes destitute or lends to a friend who will never repay. Another comparison is made with “Global South” regarding credit contributions to organizations that retains its debts, changes them for other debts, common business practices that drain community resources.

Credit can be rebuilt. Restored credit is renewed obligations to be met, “measured, dispensed, endured” that prohibits justice, the justice where there is no obligation or demand and no payback.  “Good (private) citizens” have consistent backgrounds, income and obtain credit for more debt.  Bad debt is not because of unemployment, no credit / bad credit. Bad debt is a state that is disconnected from creditors. It resists restructuring, seeks others in need. Bad debt cannot be perceived by wealth. Governance wants to reconnect debtors’ obligation to society. Interests allows policy development through credit to pay for interests.

What kind of a society is this? That does not substitute university fees? In North America one has to be rich to be able to be a student or risk to run into unbearable debts? It is a society that does not want poor people to study, a society that wants University knowledge to be available only to the rich and privileged community. In Germany, there are no university fees. Studying is free and is paid for by the tax payer. Education should be available for everyone who wants to study, no matter which social class people are from. In some countries like the US there are only a small percentage of well educated people, the majority does not have a good education and is prepared to work for minimum wage. Even if people work full time, their wages do not pay for their cost of living, often people need to work two jobs in order to be able to keep out of debt. How can a government want this? Billions are spent on weapons, only some get rich, and less money gets spent on education. The government does not have an interest to educate their people well. The less educated people are the easier they can be manipulated.

A co-written article by Fred Moten, Stefano Harney,
The University and the Undercommons - 7 theses

Professionalization Is the Privatization of the Social Individual through Negligence
This section addresses public administration courses, especially Masters of public administration, public health, environmental management, nonprofit and arts management, human service disciplinary clusters. The authors deny professionalization brings benefits of competence, practical advances or critical projects that would turn competencies to radically beneficial outcomes.
The authors declare they have ended any association with critical academics. They maintain “underlying negligence” is a cause for university labours’ anxiety. Average lectures are skeptical of government, modest in its social policy goals. Especially, the authors are concerned that there is no state theory in public administration programs in the United States. Apparently, passionate students are suppressed by professionalization.
“This is not merely a matter of administering the world, but of administering away the world (and with it prophecy)”, which “borders on the criminal”, they wrote. Questioning becomes a departmental breach. Public administration confronts socialization created by capitalism, which can be reduced to public or private socialization. This division invalidates scholarly opinions and creates a social deficiency.
Socialization divided between public and private denies common labour, in the Undercommons, for example. This is the negligent opinion of professional public administration scholars, according to the authors.

There Is No Distinction between the American University and Professionalization
Professionalism is shaped by compliant people that engage in education control, impose professionalism rather than intellectual rigour. Paradoxically, the Undercommons’ academics refuse to decline professionalization or “to be against the university”. Therefore, the university and by association professionalization is shaped what it cannot and will not acknowledge as its internal opposition.
A professional education has become a “critical education”. This does not refer to progress in professional schools, nor collaboration with the Universitas, but disrepute for those who refuse to criticize or dismiss the Undercommons. Those “critical” academic professionals tend to be regarded as safe and submissive. The university ambition mirrors the state’s ambition, because it, too, wants to control education and impose a worldview that threatens rigorous academia of the Undercommons.
In Derrida’s reading of the Universitas, he describes the university as intellectual and not a professional entity that always has the drive of State, the political power where the university is located. The university also has the power of enlightenment, and the pressure of State (governance) - state of being, or the lower case idea of state where politics remains theoretical. Derrida wrote that onto (name) and auto (self) – encyclopedic (information) refers to both the State as governing body and the state of theoretical politics., both being ambitious.

The Only Possible Relationship to the University Today Is a Criminal One
Quoting Shakespeare’s character, Pistol, a swaggering coward, “To the university I’ll steal, and there I’ll steal,” the authors explained that American universities repository of valuable thinking is located in a place of refuge for rebellious intellectuals, where ideas produced are stolen. The place, which is not a physical place, explicitly, is called the “Undercommons”, the academic retreat where the nonconformist thinkers and achievers congregate. Defining the optimal relationship to the university that needs academics but cannot tolerate the outcomes of academic achievement, academics are forced into the “Undercommons of Enlightenment” to continue their pursuits in a covert setting, maintain accompanying political rigour, “where the revolution is still black, still strong”, especially denoting the likely biographical experience of one of the authors, Fred Moten.
The work of the university as “Universitas”, the Latin word meaning the whole, total, the universe, the world, according to Merrium Webster dictionary, is a commitment to the discipline called education through the experience of being taught and teaching reciprocally between student and instructor, the world at large as teacher.
A student would ideally gather what they can from the university instruction, furtively (steal), because to do so is to acquire knowledge that cannot be bought. Knowledge is not an object for sale. Universities attempt to sell the knowledge as a product and therefore, students must steal, although what they seek is intangible. Students enter the Undercommons, where “fugitive enlightenment enacts” the demanding and passionate societal and personal expansion in students’ education.
The university needs to continually recruit new labour and it recruits from the Undercommons because of the academic rigour available there, in spite of its denunciation by the university, “Like the colonial police force recruited unwittingly from guerrilla neighborhoods.” Exceeding professionalism’s restraints, students, with life-long learning may return to the university, could consider themselves part of the problem of inadequate academic contributions.

Critical Academics Are the Professionals Par Excellence
Critical academics question the university, questions the state, questions art, politics, culture. The authors ask, “What can it mean to be critical when the professional defines himself or herself as one who is critical of negligence, while negligence defines professionalization?”
The academic critical of the university would be a professional par excellence and more negligent. To distance oneself professionally through critique is the most active consent to privatize the social individual.

Artistic Research in the Future Academy

Daniel Butt discussed the evolution of postgraduate programmes in studio art. Historically, artists rejected scholastic activity to minimize the challenges of art production (Wachter) or because art research opposed the intelligence inherent in art, “There is no solution, because there is no problem.” (Duchamp). Because art students often evade supervised written research reports, although insightful critics, most artists are unhappy with being told what to do. Failure to recognize artists as independent may occur when artists are required to write. Previously, the market saw artists as producers of mystery, not an explainers of mystery.

Butt recorded enduring questions regarding the expected and accepted outcomes pertaining to art production in relation to postgraduate studies. Art as a concept in a research paper exists for bureaucratic calculation of a student’s degree performance. Making art without written concept development allows direct, personal exchange with the viewer. Art materiality, its varied classification and understanding enables art to be, quoting David Joselit, “beside itself, decomposing stable identity into possibility.” He argued that the institutional (university / literary criticism / artistic research) audience, however, bound by sociological and political-economic dictums prevented art from being readable.

This readability was challenged by artists / researchers, now art theory writers. there is an evolution in writing because visual arts became theorized, unstable as a product as visual art. Erratically theorized writing, otherwise called work of art research was produced, intended to direct the reader to create worlds. Through reading the written delivery of art concepts, the reader became the creator. It is not the writer but the reader that produces. This reader / viewer role reversal requires independent critical interpretation.

Explanations (critical interpretation) of what was experienced through artists’ written concept development affected the independence of the work. To achieve a doctorate, artists must have artistic freedom to choose their medium, (written concept experienced by the reader). They must be evaluated on their contribution to aesthetic knowledge available through this choice, a scientific paradigm of technoscientific intuitions.

Butt identified institutional histories, conceptual frames and ideologies, bureaucratic, financial molding that transformed theological into philosophic, then technoscientific progressions that allowed fine arts into the university. Every university discipline is a market segment. Artistic research / explanatory writing became marketable, inquiry that experimented with the research degree as industry, countered the art sales market. Butt suggested radical growth, rationalized university teaching in creative disciplines allowed global art education to influence art production, more than the art sales market.

Butt explained global art education influence is a result of the correspondence of art practices through the research degrees as industry within the university market. Making work in the visual arts has become an institutional critique of the constraints of art production that contests universities’ knowledge making practices.

Because of the history of authoritative interpretation, it became habitual practice for artists rely on others to interpret their work. Writing about their own work gives artists authority, although the first in the chain of interpretation (curator / audience / critic) - “the correct interpretation can no longer be the artist’s property if the audience is to find their own experience of the work”. 

Heidegger restated that a “work of art” prompts an experience where we exist in our current present, remember a world outside ourselves, which capitalism would have us forget in our chase to improve what we already know.

As artistic production is incorporated uneasily into the constraints of university knowledge, artistic research becomes capable of pushing the future university to understand how to live on the planet. The goal of this book is to provide intellectual support to those practitioners making this critique of planetary life through their works, identifies the forces inhibiting this critique. For example, university limits artistic research to ask unconditional questions.

“Neo-liberalism” the catch-all term for capitalism, critiques globalization and international monetary policy. Foucault’s historical analysis of neo-liberalism showed governments manage populations, individuals through regulation. The capitalist concept of freedom embodies a civil society that trades outside the confines of the state.

The transition from the European nation state to electronic global capitalism dominates contemporary life. It is the context to analyse art education. Individualist freedoms have become a barrier to new forms of collective freedom that must be thought outside the neo-liberal conception of the collective as a sum of individuals that have been identified from within critical artistic practices from the late 1960s, particularly those associated with feminist, queer and anti-colonial movements. Institutional constraints on freedom are disavowed through the collective disruption of art’s organizing mechanisms.

The incorporation of the art school into the university continues to create productive tensions between scientific and artistic production because it brings the previously distinct university knowledge and artistic production into a shared logic and a shared economy. The transformation has included Ph.D.’s in studio art. Debates question if an art object can hold knowledge or produce knowledge in the scientific model. 

Other questions include:
·      How does the previous gatekeeper of culture’s historical disciplines conform to an educational industry, training ground for every field of production?
·      How does image production and circulation as the extension of artistic practice with its own medium and institutional context fit into a broader politicized affect?

Creativity has become inconsequential labour and production, where the entrepreneurial neo-liberal individual must creatively author their own life narrative. Debates about whether art is able to make a contribution to university knowledge requires that any university activity be profitable.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

reading response holding pattern

A Lover's Discourse: Fragments by Roland Barthes.
Barthes wrote about aspects of intimacy in each “fragment” or chapter. Each segment describes subjective awareness within relationships and conditions that arise because of connectivity or disconnection.
In one of the texts Barthes writes about Werther, refers to Goethes famous ‘Die Leiden des Jungen Werthers’, “The Sorrows of Young Werther”, where one of two lovers is absent, one suffers and misses the other while the other goes into the world to make new experiences. The drama ends with Werther, who is hopelessly in love with Lotte, taking his own life. Goethe wrote the book in the form of a letter of Werther to a friend. Plato, Nietzsche, Freud and other authors are referenced as complimentary, or imagined reciprocators, conversant on the subjects within the texts or established for moral support.
Each fragment defines condition of humanity. From, “In Praise of Tears”, the right to cry is countered by adult infancy, sensibility vs sentimentality, repression of timelessness vs its healthful benefits. Modes of weeping and ultimate result of crying, “the truest of messages” are objective observations.
Absence is deliberated. Fear, abandonment, death all are contrasted. He indicates qualities of time, how the “situation generates a kind of insupportable present; I am wedged between two tenses…” as contributing factors to absence. “Language is born of absence”, is another tandem. He ends that fragment with a Buddhist Koan / story, where water torture forces experience of inflexible truth, how absence of “the other” is the torturer and reconstitutes “my truth”.

“In the loving calm of your arms” / subtitle, embrace explains “enchanting” cradling vs “infantilism of sleepiness”, positions, qualifies “myth and utopia” from a previous segment on contact, “is the moment for telling stories”. Embrace is when nothing is wanted, desires do not exist because they are fulfilled. He presents the conflict of contradiction between kinds of embrace.
Definitions of Hold

There are an endless amount of definitions and phrases in which the verb hold is used. When I translate those into German I realize that in German we would often use a different word then ‘halten’. (what the future holds – was die Zukunft bringt, holds a great deal of poperty – besitzt grosse Grundstueckswerte etc).

Dans ton Coeur dort un Clair de Lune

The poem’s title is actually Chanson Triste and it was written by Henri Cazalis (1840-1909)
H. Duparc wrote the music. Here is the German translation (in case I might use it during the workshop).  It is a beautiful poem and yes, I agree the verb hold comes to mind.
In deinem Herzen schläft das Mondlicht, das milde Licht eines Sommermonds, und um dem anstrengenden Leben zu entfliehen, tauche ich mich in deine Helle.
Ich werde die gewesenen Schmerzen vergessen, meine Liebe, wenn du mein trauriges Herz und meine Gedanken in der ruhigen Geborgenheit deiner Arme wiegst.
Du wirst meinen kranken Kopf So manches Mal auf deinen Schoß nehmen, und ihm eine Ballade erzählen, eine Ballade, die von uns zu handeln scheint.
Und aus deinen Augen voller Trauer, aus deinen Augen werde ich so viele Küsse und Zärtlichkeiten trinken, daß ich vielleicht genesen werde.
The moonlight contains the power of healing, once released, apparently, according to the person imploring for its light from the one with the snoozing moonlight. Its a summer moonlight, gentle, sometimes sweet, clear, qualities of the possibility imagined or shared experience, when we look at the different translations.
The one wanting the moonlight wants to escape cares, flee the importune, escape life bother, be far from the troubles of life by drowning themselves in the light, be drowned by the light, drowning in clarity, lose themselves in brightness. The intention is to forget past sorrows, past pains, forget pain spent, or past grief. The person wanting this moonlight imagines the one with it cradling their sad heart in loving calm of the arms of the one with the sleeping moonlight. Or, by rocking the sad heart and thoughts or by rocking the sick head on knees or the sad heart and thoughts in the loving calm of arms of one with inactive moonlight, sometimes putting the sick head on the lap, or rocking the unhappy heart and thoughts on the tranquility of the moonlight containing person’s arms, the anxious head, some evenings on the moonlight dweller’s person’s lap.

Think with me about your Extension of now.
In his text, artist Olafur Eliasson writes about his thoughts related to the ‘now’ and possible different individual perceptions of the now. In one of his examples he says that the daily stock update followed by the weather forecast forms a perfect (time)frame of reference for the fact that the recent past and future belong to one’s now. The recent past (the daily state of the stock markets) and the immediate future (the prediction of the weather) forms today's perfect collective, cultivated Now.
He continues that the cultivation of a collective sense of time and space works through representation. Tools like thermostats and wind-meters are used as representational layers, our sensation of time and space (now and there) enables us to orient ourselves more productively if we are aware of the level of representation we are at.
Eliasson says our perception of now has been stretched to last longer and longer. Humans can link one moment to the next and create our sensation of presence. He refers to German philosopher Edmund Husserl who said that our expectations for the coming moment and the memory of the one just passed all belong to our perception of ‘now’. He suggested memory of moments merge with the expectation of future moments and are collectively organised to create a shared experience called now. Husserl’s assumption of expectations and memory of those moments set parameters of experience and orientation in a space.
"Now" as a segment of time has been extended by humanity because we link earlier and future moments together with the present, creating a sensation of presence.
Olafur Eliasson argued that we have ability to orient ourselves in the nearby past and immediate future and space because we are in a society of predicable outcomes, avoiding surprises for safety.
Like the stock market reports, the recent past and immediate future, he construed, is the perfect collective experience of “now”.
Our mediated experiences, the representational layers of our sensation of time and space (now and there) are measured not by how we feel but what technology says we feel. Eliasson insisted that time is subjective, unlike the objective experience of time experienced by Jim Carry’s character in the movie Truman.

A Wing and a Prayer
Tom Vanderbilt is the author of Survival City: Adventures Among the Ruins of Atomic America.
In his 2003 article for Cabinet Magazine, Tom Vanderbilt described the current urban pigeon nuisance in New York state, complete with a falcon predator hired to minimize the disturbance. He contrasts this with the use of pigeons as communication conveyances, beginning with pigeon messengers in Paris during the Franco-Prussian war (1870-71).

The war isolated Paris. Attempts to thwart the isolation due to sieges through imprecise, one-way balloon transport of people and mail carriage via floating zinc balls was superseded by ancient pigeon travellers (voyageurs). Balloons now carried pigeons to outposts where they were outfitted with messages. Birds were released and they arrived back in Paris with messages sent. Vanderbilt refers to Pliny, how ancient Roman pigeon couriers aided war, how 13th century Syria, Egypt had institutionalized pigeon posts, with penalties against pigeon killing, bounties on potential birds of prey. According to Vanderbilt, by 1572, pigeon post has been exported to Europe, utilized in Holland during the Spanish invasion. Messenger pigeon use and the sport of racing pigeons, pigeon clubs were popular in 19th century Belgium.

However, the messages obtained through the Paris siege were hampered by weather, interception and deceit. The allusion to ‘wing and a prayer’ in the title of this article might refer to the haphazard success of this means of communication delivery.

The last official use of messenger pigeons recorded was from flood bound Orissa in 2000, where Belgian bred pigeons roosted at the original 1946 postal station were imported to carry postal messages and election results. Their service was to be, Vanderbilt lamented, the dire end of the longest running airmail service in history.

Blue Eyes Black Hair by Marguerite Duras (1986) is an account of two strangers, a homosexual man, a heterosexual woman that met by chance at a seaside during a summer. No details of location are given. He pays her to remain with him in his nondescript apartment so he may look at her naked. He is never naked. Hours, days pass. Time is difficult to measure in the story. They both have blue eyes and black hair. Her looks remind him of his recent lost love. They agree that they look like each other. They don’t know each other’s names. She has dissociative memory lapses, cannot remember who he is, how she came to be where she is, where they are and why. He often cries. He doesn’t want to touch her. There seems to be some oblique relation, erotic need of both to do this. She touches herself. He sometimes wears makeup. She often wears a black silk scarf over her head, “like the black bag – it’s to put the condemned man’s head in.”
He thinks that “it’s in this room, with this theatrical light, that the beginning of his love is to be sought…” She said, “she thinks it’s a kind of accidental place, in theory uninhabitable, infernal, a closed-in stage.”
There are notes to indicate the work is can be read for an audience where actors are instructed to deliver text without special emotion or gestures, “Just the emotion aroused by the unveiling of the words.”
There is mystery, but there is no plot – the characters exchange fears. His payment ensures she will “do what I say.” We are seized by voyeurism.

Dictee by Theresa Hak Kyung Cha (1951-82), an autobiographic account in an amalgam of characters was influenced by her study of performance art and film. The foreword indicates Cha utilizes several female voices: her own, Korean revolutionary, Yu Guan Soon, Joan of Arc, Demeter, her daughter Persephone, Queen of Hades. Cha’s mother. There is little differentiation between the narrator (the author) and the designated characters, “you see only her traces.”
Of the book’s 9 parts relating to Greek muses, this summary comments on two excerpts. Interspersed are filming directions to mirror narration, staging scenes with supplementary commentary about the narration. Incongruent, a letter typed on a mid-century typewrite is included. Historic / personal photographs are employed to designate character disposition, atmosphere.
What is evident in both selections is the author’s need to portray herself. It is about her presence. Characterization of other people helps her speak: “She forms the words with her mouth as the other utter across from her.” More than one voice or character seems to be simultaneously employed, as sounds, noises, qualities of silence that are interspersed along with condensed expository. Dictee, a French word meaning dictation, a process someone writes what someone else says is the caveat for the entire work.
Cha is interested in qualities of time, apparent with her use of characters across time. “There is no future, only the onslaught of time.” “It is between séances.” Cha examines truth, what it is to believe, be believed. She deliberates on what death is, compared to sleep, “both appellant.” The book is full of her pain, “…keep the pain from translating itself into memory.”  and longing. Cha wrote, “if she were able to write she could continue to live.” Her assertion is made more poignant because Cha was murdered after Dictee was published in 1982.

Island is a compilation of poems and transcribed aural histories by, interviews with Chinese detainees of Angel Island Immigration Station in the San Francisco Bay from 1910 to when it closed in 1940. 135 ink brushed poems and carvings found on the barrack walls when Angel Island closed are included in the volume in addition to others, 150 in total. The book contains images of the original poems with English translations. The 30 years of survivors’ aural histories were collected in the section called, “The Detainment”. Archival and private photos accompany the book.
Exclusion laws resulted in Chinese detainment for days or years. Fleeing famine, foreign concession in China, the works describe despair, hopelessness and suicide, “Sadness kills…”. Poets utilize Chinese history, proverbs and legends to compare their ordeal. “…more miserable than owning only a flute in the marketplace of Wu.” This poem line compares the internees’ existence with the demise and shame a historical official suffered begging for food with his flute. Most poems are of misery. Some have an apt assessment of politics, “America has power but not justice.”
The detainment narratives have varied accounts of life within the barracks, contingent on age, length of time held, life outlook. Most are despondent, frustrated and angry. The narratives specify daily rigours of captivity. The poems are emotional outpourings and are not detailed except to articulate the depths of poets’ anguish.
Survival techniques, means of confronting, confounding authorities are explained; smuggled coaching for interrogation, hearing procedures are depicted. Cultural differences, privation, imposed religion are recorded. Relations between people in confined, segregated communal spaces, their boredom, ingenious business within the facility are countered with private adversities. Historical descriptions allow empathetic consideration of the context of their trials. Consistent in all the stories is their resolve to survive.

MIRRORS by Lucy Grealy
Dead at 39 from an apparent suicide, Lucy Grealy (1963-2002) was a poet. She wrote an essay about 30 operations endured in 20 years to reconstruct her face from excised, childhood cancer. Mirrors were integral to her reflections about how she lived.
Grealy refrained from looking at herself in a mirror and other reflected images for nearly a year. She had avoided her reflection but this year-long evasion began in her 20s after surgical intervention. She considered the act “nihilistic, an insurgence”, not knowing if this rebellion “was directed at the world or at myself.”
Reconstruction surgery was initiated by “nasty comments” (…) “all from men and all odiously sexual, hurt and disoriented me so much…” She misconstrued fixing her face with "fixing" herself, “my soul, my life.” Grealy thought her reconstructive surgery, would result in her being “whole, content, loved.”
Grealy began Her year long mirror avoidance. “I simply didn't want to know.” Previously, her repulsion with her image “took the form of a strange, obsessive attraction.” Now, she could not or did not want to associate with the image. She no longer felt ugly. She was estranged from her appearance.
She wrote that “all things eventually relate back to ourselves, and it is our own sense of how we appear to the world by which we chart our lives, how we navigate our personalities that would otherwise be adrift in the ocean of other peoples' obsessions.”
Once in conversation with an attractive man, she convinced herself he was speaking with an ugly woman. The negative presumption did not match the interaction. She needed to shed her self image.
She realized, “most truths are inherently unretainable, that she could change how she thought about herself. 

Georges Perec  described the “what”, the ordinary, worthy of notice through a 3- day vigil in a Paris cafe. The goal, to be astonished by what is immediate and to question and compare the mundane to ascertain personal truth.
He explained his observation of ordinariness: “what is not noticed”, is valuable and is pivotal to “what happens when nothing happens.” He repeats an observed slogan and its visual context, “Demand the real thing, Roquefort Société in its green oval”. This catchphrase reflects Perec’s intention.
Inventories, trajectories are composed of lists. He offers descriptions of events, “a Japanese woman seems to be taking my photograph”. Perec repeats his daily observations in similar categories, noting weather, street traffic, time. Throughout the excerpt, Perec interposes commentary. “There’s no water gushing from the fountain.” He poses questions, “young man draws a sort of “V” (…) with a kind of question mark inside it (land art?)” He makes social commentary, “Most people are using at least one hand…”.
He becomes a voyeur to a funeral and wedding procession. He becomes emotionally taxed, “I want to clear my head. To read Le Monde. Take my business elsewhere.” In a few pages, he remarks on his emotional state, “fatigue”, “lull (lassitude)”. He wrote about how a point of scrutiny is consumed by observation and how that observation consumes him.

Perec philosophises about his “unsatisfied curiosity, (what I came here to find, the memory of floating in this café...)”. He insists that it is important to see not only rips that make fabric visible but the fabric, more philosophical analysis of his experiences.