This paper presents wildness as an agent that can free African-American characters from the toxic, controlling ‘tracks’ (e.g., rail, subway, exploitative record labels) of the City (Harlem). Although critics have explored the ways in which the City in Toni Morrison’s Jazz is oppressive, I discuss the oppression of citified tracking as a contradiction of the natural, spontaneous, and wild form that mimics jazz music. Although the characters face exploitation in the City, their deterioration is not a result of the City itself (sometimes a site of possibility and hope for African-Americans migrating North) but of the toxic ways in which they interact with the City. Ultimately, Morrison demonstrates the importance of maintaining one’s African-American Southern rural roots and of creating one’s own tracks. By examining the exploitation and subsequent healing the characters experience in the City, this paper suggests that African-Americans in present-day cities can overcome some of the oppression of capitalist urban centres by avoiding the toxic, urban ‘tracks’ that seek to control them. By discussing African-American issues of identity and individuality, especially in terms of their connection with nature, this paper contributes to narrative inclusivity and the merging of disciplines.
Abdul Rahman Munif’s quintet Cities of Salt sketches an image of the ecological destruction triggered by America’s oil-driven interference in the gulf region, which consequently became a triggering factor for the emergence of Islamic authoritarianism and political conflicts. The events of Cities of Salt start around the 1930s in the undisturbed environment of the oasis of Wadi al-Uyoun, destined to be devastated by the emergent oil industry, where Munif creates a parallel image of homogenous society which is also to be divided by a chasm that separates the beneficiaries from the uprooted masses. This article focuses on Munif’s depiction of the built environment which brings the two images of environment and society together. The vernacular architecture of Wadi al-Uyoun homes, built from its natural materials and by the collective efforts of its people, is also destroyed and replaced by constructions that neither belong to Wadi al-Uyoun’s natural environment nor reflect the identity of its people. Munif connects creatively two parallel shifts: the shift from an almost egalitarian community into a capitalist one and the shift from a spiritual Islamic society into a radically authoritarian Islamic state. This article aims at illustrating the enforced degradation of the inherited architectural identity and the demolition of the original urban fabric that reflected the ecological harmony for the sake of distorted architectural identity and imposed urban plans that reflect the new capitalist and authoritarian nature of the Gulf States.
This paper introduces the concept of ‘selective acceleration’ in light of the economic and social history of Detroit. To begin, Detroit is treated as a case study used to diagram the relative deterritorialization of the economic system by neoliberalism. Deleuze and Guattari’s metaphor of addiction is used in order to understand unregulated neoliberal capital as an addiction of the metropole. This addiction enables the acceleration of neoliberalism in the city, which aligns with Virilio’s concept of the suicidal State. This ‘addict’ ignores and abandons those it determines it has no use for: the precariat. Drawing upon Deleuze’s ‘Dionysian yes’ or a ‘yes with a no’, this article presents a potential movement on the diagonal to allow the precariat a means of re-appropriating the technologies and developments used against them through the process of affirming the very structures they have already been developing outside of the capitalist machine. By selecting what elements of the process to accelerate, this abandoned population could be granted the keys to its own future.
One of Alfred Hitchcock’s most well-known movies, Psycho (1960) continues to instigate debate and academic scholarship. While this movie was the precursor of many trends, such as the slasher horror genre, it has not escaped controversy. According to John Phillips, Psycho “[provided] the original model of the mentally disturbed cross-dressed murderer” (87) by equating cross-dressing with a form of mental illness so severe that its only logical manifestation is violence. Norman’s gender bending, expressed by dressing and living as his mother, threatens gender binaries, and thus creates a veritable monster. In this article, I will argue that Psycho promotes a transphobic rendering of its main villain, Norman Bates, in order to understand how the movie tries to contain Norman’s transgender identity. Using film studies and queer studies, I will examine Norman as a transgender character, Lila as an embodiment of the Law, and the psychiatrist at the end as a repressing force. Mainly, I will argue that Lila and the psychiatrist function to normalize Norman and to contain his non-normativity.