I read (saw) the news today, oh boy

Wednesday morning: Wandered around the Streets of New York (black and white photographs) exhibit at the National Art Gallery, thinking deep and creative thoughts which, if I were E, I'd be able to write up on screen but since it's me, have already fled from my head.

Then, going to see the Henri Rousseau exhibit and being fascinated by pictures of the "Ethnographic Exhibitions" instead. Apparently, these exhibitions were the things you went to if you were in Paris in the late 1800s and early 1900s. They had France's colonial subjects transposed from their little villages on the other side of the world and brought over to France to catch a glimpse of how civilisation worked. It was a bit unfortunate that there appeared to be no one from my part of the world. After all, the Mission Civilisatrice was doing quite well in what is now politely called "the former Indochina" at that time. But, no, the pride of the pictures at the exhibit appeared to be troups of (always half-naked) women from Africa.

In view of the ongoing debates being fought over, in an online thingy that I am part of and also evident in that AnotherBigNameMeeting panel that I am supposedly writing up on, about what is ethnography, it was rather worrying (including, quite possibly, for the "Ashanti woman" being posed and stood with something that looked vaguely like a lance but which I'm sure couldn't have been since they probably didn't use lances. But, what do I know?) to see the ways in which the French natives normalised the observations, recording and publicising among the general populace, the reproduction of these Natives. There were posters, pamphlets, postcard-like things, and, more obviously, continuous issues of the popular Le Petit Journal*, all with pictures of exotic Natives. And, yet, not much different to the life-sized cutout of a Chinese bloke, standing outside a (Chinese, of course) restaurant in OOD that I saw last year. But, then, as we all know, Denmark doesn't matter. Whereas France certainly did matter. It would be fun to trace out the (anti, mostly) immigrant discourses today and the (fascinated and awed, at times) discourses of the "ethnographic exhibitions", especially in the popular press. But, again, that is for someone else (or for when I have my own Minion).

Afternoon: Sitting in a bar with my cousin (who was visiting from out of town), watching TV pictures of a small plane crash into a building in New York City. Noting the reaction of the few people there, one of whom kept saying "Oh my God, we'll all die, it's terrorists again" and repeating "Oh, my God, why do they hate us?" over and over and over. The others were quiet, people explained to newcomers what was going on and, for over an hour, no one knew what had occurred or how much damage had been done or who was involved. There was nothing to do but to keep eating (me), drinking (other people) and smoking (everyone else except me).

* This appears to have been the Sun of its day.


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