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4. Shopping for Clothes

Pravina Shukla Indiana University Press ePub

THE OLD CITY OF BANARAS runs along the Ganges, the river of the goddess Ganga. Wide steps of stone lead down to the ghats at the riverside. Pilgrims and local people descend for prayer, for bathing and washing clothes. Ghats in sequence line the riverfront. Two of them are “burning ghats,” used for cremation—Harishchandra to the south and Manikarnika to the north1—where the continual burning of bodies attracts curious tourists and the local hustlers who offer to take them to see the “dead body fire.” Eighty-four ghats string along the river, but most of the activity, social and religious, takes place on the steps of the “main ghat.” Situated in the middle and numbered forty-one, Dashaswamedh Ghat is the place of the ancient Ten Horse Sacrifice. Here, Lord Brahma came disguised as an ascetic and requested the King of Kashi, Divodasa, to sponsor an extravagant version of the horse sacrifice, the aswamedh. The ritual was flawlessly performed, and now all those who bathe here receive the blessings of the horse sacrifice.2

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Chapter Thirteen Closure

Samuel S. Bak Indiana University Press ePub
Medium 9780253009036

12 Tempered Nostalgia in Recent French Films on the ’68 Years

Daniel J Sherman Indiana University Press ePub


The representational heterogeneity of 1968 is self-evident. The events of that year were multiple; they advocated multiplicity, generated countless instant accounts, and have been interpreted and polemicized in a myriad of ways. Film is a fitting form for reckoning with the sixties as a whole and 1968 in particular not only because impressions of 1968 at the time and since have trafficked in images, and not only because film lends itself to capturing diverse temporalities and spaces, but also because of the simple fact that no one has stopped making films about “the ’68 years.” Where do we stand today in relation to 1968 with respect to film? I would like to discuss two films: Philippe Garrel’s Les amants réguliers (Regular Lovers, 2005) and Christian Rouaud’s Lip, l’imagination au pouvoir (Lip: Imagination in Power, 2007).1

Both of these films return to les années soixante-huit (the ’68 years), that period in France that opened with the student and worker strikes of May–June 1968 and continued into the mid-1970s. Even against the backdrop of worldwide upheaval, the French events of May and June were noteworthy. Nowhere else did matters go so far. Beginning in the student milieu, the largest general strike in twentieth-century Europe led to upward of ten million workers leaving or occupying their workplaces. The government of Charles de Gaulle experienced a shuddering crisis of confidence as the president dramatically left the country in late May for a military base in Germany to check on the loyalty of the army. Although the student-occupied Latin Quarter was cleared in June and special elections later that month strengthened de Gaulle, the events of 1968 were considered by many, as was said at the time, the “beginning of a long struggle,” a “breach” in the wall of conventional society, an opening of historical possibility that militant action would keep open and extend (figure 12.1).2 The late 1960s and early to mid-1970s saw an upswing of left-wing radicalism, the formation of new social movements, and the abrupt emergence of the French counterculture. This climate of radical social and political action began to taper off in the mid-1970s.

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5 Diasporic Values in Contemporary Art: R. B. Kitaj, Ben Katchor, Vera Frenkel

Carol Zemel Indiana University Press ePub

The Diasporist feels uneasy, alert to his new freedom, groundless, even foreign—until or unless he feels very much at home.

—R. B. Kitaj, First Diasporist Manifesto

Exile is always the beginning of narrative—and Diaspora is the place where people talk.

—Sidra DeKoven Ezrahi, Booking Passage

I begin this chapter and conclude this book with a challenge posed in these epigraphs on Jewish life and art in diaspora. In his First Diasporist Manifesto (1989), the painter R. B. Kitaj declares diaspora’s fundamental ambivalence. It encompasses both the exhilaration and anxiety of being unfettered—free of convention and proscriptive ties—as well as uneasiness in that “groundless” state. The discomfort passes, Kitaj suggests, when the Diasporist recognizes that this state can also be “home.” Aphoristic in style, the Manifesto proclaims displacement as a central condition of modernity and modern art. “Diasporist painting, which I just made up,” Kitaj wrote, “is enacted under peculiar historical and personal freedoms, stresses, dislocation, rupture and momentum. The Diasporist lives and paints in two or more societies at once.”1 Diasporism, then, is deemed a characteristic of modern artists generally. “In my time,” he states, “half the painters of the great schools of Paris, New York and London were not born in their host countries.”2 Kitaj saw a real advantage to this condition for the artist. “As a painter, I’ve come to detect something like moral power or destiny, living in more than one society, wrapped about in art, in its histories and antitheses.”3 But however broad the Manifesto’s claims, and however eager the artist was to see it as a modern condition, Kitaj’s Diasporism is clearly Jewish. “Diasporic painting,” he wrote, “is unfolding commentary on its life-source, the contemplation of a transience, a Midrash . . . in paint. . . . These circumstantial allusions form themselves into secular Responsa or reactions to one’s transient restlessness, un-at-homeness, groundlessness.”4

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Chapter Four On Father’s Side: The Baks

Samuel S. Bak Indiana University Press ePub

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