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6 Pushing Luck Too Far: ’68, Northern Ireland, and Nonviolence

Daniel J Sherman Indiana University Press ePub

SIMON PRINCE

On October 5, 1968, police officers broke ranks to beat a small civil rights march off the streets of Derry. The young poet Seamus Heaney recognized this moment as a “watershed in the political life of Northern Ireland”: it was no longer possible to believe in “shades of grey.”1 On October 4, 2008, the commemorations marking the fortieth anniversary of the march opened in Derry’s Guildhall with an easy-listening version of Nina Simone’s “Free.” This was appropriate for an event that smoothed out the story of the past to suit the needs of the politics of the present. A Nobel Peace Prize winner, John Hume, and a former high-ranking member of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), Martin McGuinness, each laid claim to the movement’s legacy; the different Irish nationalist traditions—constitutionalism and physical force—each laid exclusive claim to continue the struggle of the Catholic minority.2

But the speech given by the journalist Nell McCafferty was played in a new key. She took out her medicine and encouraged people in the audience to talk about the drugs that they had been prescribed, for she felt that popping pills was the only proper response to the sight of elderly men parading onto the platform in acts of self-promotion. The late 1960s that McCafferty recalled were not about peaceful politics or the politics of the gun; they were about homeless families squatting in empty properties, the occupation of public buildings, and protesters challenging bans on marches. She talked about nonviolence, a democratic idea that is little heard of in the public discourse of Northern Ireland.3 It is an idea that questions the act of peacefully working within the system as much as violently trying to overthrow it. It is an idea that since the 1960s has helped end empires, topple dictators, and pull down barriers to equality. It is an idea that subversively suggests that even democratic states often have to be forced to concede change. The uneasy listening continued for the politicians when McCafferty asked and eventually bullied those who had also broken the law to raise their hands. A spontaneous round of applause sounded around the hall.4 In a reprise of what had happened four decades earlier, nonviolent confrontation had briefly offered the Catholic community something different from constitutional nationalism and militant republicanism.

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CHAPTER ONE: An Introduction

Olive Jensen Theisen University of North Texas Press PDF

AN INTRODUCTION

3

The practice of segregation extended to the creative arts communities as well.

Negroes were permitted entrance to art museums on only one day of the week, usually Thursday. Black people were allowed to sit only in the back of the movie theatres or in the balcony. Few serious dramatic roles were available for black actors and actresses. Great Negro musicians were often submitted to the indignities of segregation as they toured the country. Despite the fact that there were talented and skilled black artists, recognition and therefore financial success were commonly denied the visual artist of color. It was as though the black people of the

United States were, as Ralph Ellison said, nearly invisible.

So when young John Biggers entered college at Hampton Institute, Hampton,

Virginia, in 1941, he registered with the intention of learning a practical trade, such as plumbing. But a visionary teacher opened the doors of possibility to this gifted young man. John Biggers left that institution in 1946 as a deeply committed artist, knowing that his calling would be to tell the honest story of the Negro in

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3 What’s Left of the Right to the City?

Daniel J Sherman Indiana University Press ePub

JUDIT BODNAR

An undeniable legacy of 1968 is the proclamation of the right to the city. What happened in Paris, Prague, and many other cities, however, was merely the crystallization of long-existing conditions: even the concept was formulated earlier. Henri Lefebvre finished The Right to the City in 1967, on the centenary of volume 1 of Marx’s Capital, as Lefebvre himself noted, but it was not this temporal coincidence or the intellectual kinship that determined its significance. The concept of the right to the city came into its own with the events of 1968; it received justification in people reclaiming the streets for radical politics, people who acted as if they had all read Lefebvre and were staging his work in the streets of Paris. The right to the city has informed urban theory and inspired urban justice movements ever since. Some also note the radical transformation this notion has gone through since its conception, what with the “undeclared vulgarization” of some of Lefebvre’s ideas, and their circulation in severely abridged forms undermining their original meaning.1

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Chapter Eleven Mother’s Tutoring

Samuel S. Bak Indiana University Press ePub
Medium 9780253353801

11 What Condition the Postmodern Condition Is In: Collecting Culture in The Big Lebowski

Edward P Comentale Indiana University Press ePub

Allan Smithee

In the spring of 1998, moviegoers had the chance to purchase a ticket to a magic carpet ride called The Big Lebowski, a strange new Coen brothers project that may never have gotten off the ground had it not been for the assured wizardry of its creators and its colorful cast of likable actors. In the end, it sank like a bowling ball after just a few short weeks, having racked up a paltry domestic gross of $17,451,873, a largely unsympathetic reaction from critics and indifference from a mass audience that seemed interested only in keeping the good ship Titanic afloat at the local multiplex (boxofficemojo.com). At that point, Lebowski might very well have settled into its designated slot in the home video graveyard, fondly remembered, perhaps, by the same clutch of diehard Coen brothers fans who continue to defend disappointments like The Hudsucker Proxy. What happened instead was a massive revival, one that has by now easily transcended the esoteric confines of the “cult movie” and settled into a strata of public awareness somewhere just this side of the American pantheon of immortal favorites like Star Wars, The Wizard of Oz, and The Blues Brothers. Of course, the belated adoration of Lebowski is not unique in and of itself, for there are plenty of other recent comedies such as Half-Baked or Office Space that have also turned into breakout hits only after their release on home video, thanks in no small part to that peculiarly imitative ritual whereby people recite memorable dialogue or recount favorite scenes. Though such vernacular mimicry has also contributed heavily to the Lebowski phenomenon, I want to begin my discussion by suggesting that what truly distinguishes The Big Lebowski as a film—what compels us to watch it repeatedly, what makes it a phenomenon worthy of study, and what swells its continually growing ranks of admirers—is its almost unrivalled capacity to act as an occasion for the collecting of culture.

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