Posts tagged product
Recommended read: Last Days Of Detroit

 

Ruins don't make you think of the past, they direct you to the future.

 

Mark, a Detroit native and ex-Rolling Stones reporter, returns to his home city to tell the story of a landscape that seemingly looks broken beyond repair. Once a thriving city of hope, beacon of capitalism and template of commerce, Detroit has now become a parable of what happens when the treasured system fails. A city bankrupt on so many levels. From finance, education, utilities, jobs and industry. Vacant plots become vacant districts. Mass exodus, failed government solutions.

Yet this parable has a twist. Another future being crafted within the locality.

The story is not an easy one, and Mark pays careful attention not to be the reporter looking from the outside, praising alternative economies whilst failing to appreciate the very struggle these narratives find their voice within. Detroit is struggling, and its residents carry the scars of having to toil the land of creative alternatives. A twenty-four-hour reminder that the knight in shining armour is not going to come from a corporation or government official, but instead from the minds of the city defining a different set of values.

Is Detroit our future?

I'm unsure. Instead, I like to think of it as a living parable. A parable that brings a reality check to the illusion we are holding onto concerning this present unjust system, and, a pointer to what can be redefined.

What scares me the most within this narrative of hope. I am not sure that this redefinition can come through anything other than pain.

 

It has also been my good fortune to have lived long enough to witness the death blow dealt to the illusion that unceasing technological innovations and economic growth can guarantee happiness...

Instead of putting our organisational energies into begin For and General Motors to stay in Detroit, we need to go beyond traditional capitalism...

Instead of buying all our food from the store, we need to be planting community and school gardens and creating farmers markets....

Detroit's cultural revolution is transforming how we view ourselves, our surroundings, and our institutions. We are making a life and not just a living, by feeding ourselves, educating our children, and taking more responsibility for each other and our communities....

Every crisis, actual or impending, needs to be viewed as an opportunity to bring about profound changes in our society. Going beyond protest organising, visionary organising begins by creating images and stories of the future that helps us imagine and create alternatives to the existing system.

 

Recommended read: Blindness

It’s a captivating series of opening scenes.

A driver blocks the middle lane of traffic, shouting “I am blind”. A good Samaritan helps the driver home, then steals the car as payment. Moments later he too is blind. The first blind man visits an ophthalmologist, who finds no medical explanation as to the sudden blindness. That evening, as the doctor searches for possible reasons, he too finds himself blind. It is then only a matter of days before an unexplained mass epidemic of blindness hits the city.

The governments response to this ‘unknown’ is so sectionalise both those who are blind, and those who have been in contact with those blind, away from the general public. Put in a disused asylum, the first half of the book focuses upon a few select characters caught up within this unnerving epidemic. Self managing vested interests, hygiene challenges and the lack of food within an overcrowded building. The second half, recounts what happens once they realise that the outside has forgotten them - because they too are all blind.

Blindness is not the easiest of reads due to the authors unique writing style. The long sentences, lack of quotation marks around dialogue and the descriptive preferences instead of characters names, means that attention is always demanded within the text. That said. Welcome the reading disruption, and the discovery of a different flow will lead you into a storyline that deliberately seeks to challenge our ignorance of the world around us.

“I don’t think we did go blind, I think we are blind,

Blind but seeing, Blind people who can see, but do not see.”

Blindness (Vintage Classics)
£6.29
By Jose Saramago
Instead.... instead

It has also been my good fortune to have lived long enough to witness the death blow dealt to the illusion that unceasing technological innovations and economic growth can guarantee happiness...

Instead of putting our organisational energies into begin For and General Motors to stay in Detroit, we need to go beyond traditional capitalism...

Instead of buying all our food from the store, we need to be planting community and school gardens and creating farmers markets....

Detroit's cultural revolution is transforming how we view ourselves, our surroundings, and our institutions. We are making a life and not just a living, by feeding ourselves, educating our children, and taking more responsibility for each other and our communities....

Every crisis, actual or impending, needs to be viewed as an opportunity to bring about profound changes in our society. Going beyond protest organising, visionary organising begins by creating images and stories of the future that helps us imagine and create alternatives to the existing system.

The Next American Revolution (sustainable activism for the 21st century): Grace Lee Boggs

 

This book is quickly becoming my favourite text of this year.

Blind but seeing

I don’t think we did go blind, I think we are blind, Blind but seeing,

Blind people who can see, but do not see.

Blindness : Jose Saramago

May not be the easiest author to read, due to his unique writing style, but what a story. A perfection summation of a 'now' book that challenges our ignorance of the world we live within.

A re-interpretation of 'Journey'

To reinterpret what it means to journey : What an Indian Tribal Artist Can Teach Us About Rediscovering Our Capacity for Everyday Wonder.

A mere century ago, the vast majority of people never traveled more than fifty miles from their place of birth in their lifetime — and yet here we are today, jaded and irritable at the prospect of travel. How did we end up that way? And what if we arrogant moderns could, if only for a moment, strip ourselves of our cultural baggage and experience travel afresh, with eager new eyes and exuberant joy for the journey?

 
The London Jungle Book
£10.26
By Bhajju Shyam
A pledge and revolution

 

Gradually the truth was growing on him that the pledge to do as Jesus would was working out a revolution in his parish and throughout the city.

Charles Sheldon: In His Steps

 

In His Steps
£8.24
By Charles Monroe Sheldon

I love this novel. First published in 1897, the story frames itself around a simple yet profound concept - what would Jesus do? It was a narrative that impacted a young Welsh preacher by the name of Evan Roberts, challenging him to pursue an answer with who ever dared join him. The results of which are written in history under the title 'the 1904 Welsh revival'. 

 

There is a scene in the book that has continually challenged me. A preacher in a respectable church had just about finished his sermon when:

…suddenly into the midst of this perfect accord and concord between preacher and audience, there came a very remarkable interruption… It came from the rear of the church, from one of the seats under the gallery. The next moment the figure of a man came out of the shadow there and walked down the middle aisle. Before the startled congregation fairly realised what was going on, the man had reached the open space in front of the pulpit and had turned about, facing the people.

The interruption was from a vagrant.

I’m not an ordinary tramp, though I don’t know of any teaching of Jesus that makes one kind of a tramp less worth saving than another… I was wondering, as I sat there under the gallery, if what you call following Jesus is the same thing as what he taught. What do you Christians mean by following the steps of Jesus?.. What is meant by following Jesus?

He then told the story of how his wife had died in a tenement (rented substandard room/s usually occupied by those marginalised, poor or elderly) that was owned by a Christian. And that his daughter now lives with a friend while he looks for a job and place to live. The tramp then continued.

Somehow I get puzzled when I see so many Christians living in luxury and singing 'Jesus, I my cross have taken, all to leave and follow thee', and remember how my wife died in a tenement in New York City gasping for air, and asking God to take the little girl too. Of course I don’t expect you people can prevent everyone from dying of starvation, lack of proper nourishment, and tenement air, but what does following Jesus mean?

It seems to me there’s an awful lot of trouble in the world that somehow wouldn’t exist if all the people who sing such songs (as 'All for Jesus, all my being's ransomed powers, all my thoughts and all my doings, all my days and all my hours') went and lived them out. I suppose I don’t understand. But what would Jesus do? Is that what you mean by following his steps? It seems to me sometimes as if the people in the churches had good clothes and nice houses to live in, and money to spend for luxuries, and could go away on summer vacations and all that, while the people outside the churches, thousands of them, I mean, die in tenements and walk the streets for jobs…

I won’t spoil the rest of the book, as I would highly recommend anyone who reads this blog to glance over its pages. But I will just add that the tramps challenge provoked both the preacher and some of his congregation to take a pledge for a year to

'not to do anything without first asking the question 'what would Jesus do?'

The results of which impacted all aspects of life for the characters in the book.  'What would Jesus do?' was not a merchandisable phrase for them, neither was it a soundbite. It was a powerful question that looked deep into the heart and demanded a response outside of the comfort zone of their manufactured world.