Monday, December 07, 2020

"I am bottom of the pile here"

 Not so long ago I heard somebody in the grove of academe prating something to the effect of racism being something that only white folks did, that this was axiomatic because of the hegemony of the orientalist nexus in the post-colonial discourse, or words to that effect. Then I remembered Martin Jacques:

That evening the duty doctor came to see her. I asked him various questions and received only evasive responses. I had been anxious for the medical staff to be aware that I was white; in Hong Kong my colour commanded deference and respect, the opposite to how they saw Hari's beautiful deep brown complexion. When he left, I said to her: "A fat lot of use that was." She replied: "I am bottom of the pile here." Her words travelled through my body like an electric shock.The hospital staff were no different to the rest of Hong Kong. Prejudice was ingrained and systemic. Hari's words were all the more disturbing because they were so uncharacteristic. She was uncomplaining, patient and extraordinarily compassionate. She would see prejudice as an affliction of the perpetrator that needed her help and kindness to overcome. But lying in hospital, vulnerable and unwell, was a different matter. She uttered these words with a sense of resignation. When I asked her what she meant – expecting her to give examples – she simply said: "I am Indian and everyone else here is Chinese." The staff were no doubt unaware that Hari was fluent in Cantonese and could understand the racial epithets they were using to refer to her. I told Hari I was going to get her discharged. I went to see the nurse, debating in my mind whether to take her home there and then or in the morning. I opted for the morning because she was still unwell. It was the worst decision I have ever made. 

The Revolutionary Army of the Infant Jesus:


Monday, October 26, 2020



'Historical understanding is always situated and necessarily coloured by our present values and interests. Historical accounts are stories we tell to provide a coherent narrative about who we are and how, through interacting with each other and the world, we got here. Such stories are inherently retrospective - each community in each age will tell the story differently - and they are constructed. The only sense in which a historical narrative can “gets things right” is by telling a story which proves to be both acceptable and enabling to the members of a community; and the only sense in which one such narrative can be “better” than another is not by offering a more faithful description of the objective sequence of events, but rather by redescribing the events in a novel and helpful way.’  

James Conant. ‘Freedom, Cruelty and Truth: Rorty versus Orwell’. 
In Rorty and His Critics, edited by Robert B. Brandon. 
Oxford: Blackwell, 2000, 276.

Revolutionary Army of the Infant Jesus

Saturday, October 10, 2020


 'The mere possibility that something of value will not fall under the rule of time - and here we need not raise the question of how that value originated, whether inherent or the creation of interpreters - is the real justification for our continuing the clamorous, opinionated conversation.'

Kermode, Frank.
 Forms of Attention
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 
1985, 91.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Tracking and tracing

In the war against the coronavirus, many stories are told of heroes and heroines fighting for humanity. The Fundy Post, a blog of record, will serve to tell the lesser-known stories of entitled pricks who are concerned only with themselves. Here, for a start, are some reactions to a report in the New York Times: "Last week, doctors on Long Island in New York started treating Covid-19 patients with estrogen in an effort to increase their immune systems, and next week, physicians in Los Angeles will start treating male patients with another hormone that is predominantly found in women, progesterone, which has anti-inflammatory properties and can potentially prevent harmful overreactions of the immune system."


Sunday, April 19, 2020

Caveat vendor

Someone in Palmerston North attempted to sell a guitar on TradeMe, unaware that one of his neighbours is a man who will not take no for an answer. This could be the start of a horror film. They Are Out There could be its title.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Friendly reminder

Many bearded men on Twitter issue friendly reminders, seemingly at random, to ensure we remain fully aware of something terribly important to them. Often these men are called Tyler. Here is one. 

Tyler want to remind us that white privilege exists and is not up for debate. White people have privilege. This is  so important  that he turns on the caps lock and writes PERIODT, a spelling  appropriated from black culture.

Right on, Tyler.

But then, in comes Tim, with a reminder about two other privileges, straight/passing and male. Tyler cannot tell Tim to bog off and write his own friendly reminder, because that might appear homophobic, or transphobic. So Tyler falls in line, and Tim parades his privileges.

But then in comes Nicky, who asks difficult questions. And I come in, just for the fun. Tyler sees an opportunity to parade his virtue, so at the end of the day everybody is happy in a very real sense.

The Tyla Gang: