Bloody Wednesday

The day started off in an unsettled fashion. It was the day after I had spoken out at an office meeting – being a lightening rod for a criticism. I provoked and was feeling I had spoken too much the day before. The I woke at 4 and watched Australia concede that goal to Serbia and end up with a small margin, and so head home. Good on you socceroos!

Then the news began to come in from Canberra. I was aghast! I was apalled. It was wrong – it was not a decent thing to do. Later I heard John Faine on ABC and his cynicism was corrosive. I felt like I was in a naive space, I began to hanker for idealism. I did not want to lose Kevin Rudd – I did not want Australia to lose its vision.

The new person who would come on board was not clean – it felt sleazy. It was back to politics after 30 months of a feeling that politicians were for the people.

I sat at Degani’s in Clifton Hill and jotted things desultorily. Its only about feelings – and very disjointed! So here goes.

Kevin Rudd and perfection – A thesis of perfection with a hidden fatal flaw.

Australia will go through the five stages of Anger, Denial, Bargaining, Acceptance and Death. The death would be of the independence of governance. It would be lobbyists and special interest groups. The idealist leaves and the pragmatist arrives.

Then I wrote this:

Dear Kevin, why, why did you let this happen?

You had dreams, you invited us to dream with you and you showed courage, took risks and promised us the dreams would come true. And you let them dump you, push you aside. You let us down.

You may well say et tu Julia.

But hemlock you have drunk

you are no philosopher

you are no academic

you were meant to keep evil in check and protect us from the cartels, the gangs, the organised thugs

Obama slogan for the ultra right Uma dreams of becoming India’s Obama

Bharatiya Janshakti Party president Uma Bharti’s latest slogan is “Yes we can”. It worked for Obama, Uma is now asking, why wont it do wonders for her too?

“When I saw him taking oath, you cannot believe I thought I was taking oath. I felt I have become President of America. I identify so much with him,” said Uma Bharti.

Dreaming to be India’s
Obama to many that may sound strange given that the two have little in common.

Where Obama swept the US elections, Uma was once the BJP’s poster girl in Madhya Pradesh now struggling to find feet just before the elections. Despite that she is eyeing the top political job in the country.

On being asked, do you think you have it in yourself to be a prime minister, Uma Bharatisaid I can go gaga over myself when I am talking off the record.

She is often been accused of inciting communal sentiment, be it the Babri Masjid demolition or hoisting the Tricolour in Hubli for which she was jailed. And now she has backed Malegaon blast accused Sadhvi Pragya Thakur.

Politics and Design

In 1998 I wrote a paper and presented it at a conference – the paper was called “Commodity fetishism and the need for theory building in Design”. It was one of those rare events where I showed my work – and talked about how we must all do less of ‘yet another chair’ – and we must all collectively boycott institutions like the salon satellite which promote design as an agency that creates objects for rich people. I have grumbled and been snide about the ‘art’ side to design. I have referred to this as the eilitism of a dying discourse.

There is very little of a conscience – if we set aside sustainability and the assistive side to design – energising design discourse. The gurus have their eyes firmly fixed upon the past – and even there the categories are borrowed.

I read Ian McEwan in the paper on saturday and a wonder at his take on ‘Obama will save the world’. Will Obama save design too? To do this he would need to take the preocupation of design with the ipod and direct it at something more emotional and messy. He wouldn’t do this in person – but the agenda he sets – like health care could become the clarion call for a design rennaisance. For the community orientated and bottom up to flex its brain muscles.

Political artists should get their hands dirty | Art and design |

Some artists have been directly critical of Obama’s image, including 24-year old Chicago art student David Cordero, who sparked a controversy in the international press when he displayed a life-sized papier-mache representation of Obama as Jesus, entitled ‘Blessing’ and topped with a neon halo, at his senior show. Cordero explained to the Associated Press that the work was “a caution in assigning all these inflated expectations on one individual, and expecting them to change something that many hands have shaped”.

Many artists are politically engaged but they – unlike politicians – tend to be focused on issues rather than personality contests. Artists who create work that supports or opposes an ideology can contribute to the general discourse, and the collectors who buy such work can show their support for the ideas it expresses. But active participation in politics, whether financially or through personal activism, is also needed.

Political Design

I’ve written a brief note on the June 2008 publication of Designing Denuclearization: An Interpretive Encyclopedia (Transaction Publishers). Designing Denuclearization puts my case that nuclear weapons abolition should be the subject of focused research and policy discussion, a practical aim of governments to be pursued with urgence in the immediate future. The note includes links to other books I’ve written on war and nuclear policy, and to course materials on nuclear nonproliferation and abolition.