NY: water towers, yellow peril, and some loves

Last week in NY was mostly wandering around neighborhoods, admiring the water towers, but one of the nights I attended a talk by John Tchen on Yellow Peril. Notes:

  • How does visual culture of the past influence present emotions?
  • Yellow danger, yellow claw, disembodied hands, the grotesque
  • Racial attitudes shaped by political anxieties: Melanie Klein’s theory of projection/paranoia: the Other is constructed to externalize social instability and conflict
  • Racial Triangulation Chart: Y-axis is Inferior/Superior, X-axis is Outsider/Insider, and the outer boundary is “white”
  • The real danger of the 1882 Exclusion Act was in the idea that “American” means “white”
  • What are implications for the discourse surrounding “model minority” and “honorary whites”? Besides being patronizing and hierarchical, or the subtext of “white” as a standard for “good,” G wanted to know how this discourse participates in erasure, renders invisible the Other. It makes me thinks of the complexity of visible/invisible and why the term “colorblind” (as in, “post-racial”) has always made me anxious.

Other NY discoveries: Tenement Museum (my favorite wandering this trip), Hayden Planetarium (I almost cried…though I miss from childhood when a voice talked softly in the dark while pointing out constellations on the ceiling), and the most delicious yuba soba noodles.

Lastly: Hiroshi Sugimoto, because dioramas! Also just realized he is on the cover of a favorite book (An Elemental Thing, Eliot Weinberger).

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