Reckoning–27 February 2017

27 February 2017

After a weekend spent revamping the Foreign Influence website, I am ready to return to some projects put on hold at the end of 2016. Four topics in particular continue to hold my attention–Crip Theory and the development of a curriculum for Disability Studies, the ongoing search for the best ways to articulate thoughts on The Essay Film, arguments about Basic Income and the future of work, and the relation between Humor and Social Change…if one exists.

The World Health Organization released a report this week, stating that depression is the leading cause of disability around the world. According to the report,

GENEVA: More than 4 percent of the world’s population lives with depression, and women, youth and the elderly are the most prone to its disabling effects, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.

An estimated 322 million people suffered depressive disorders in 2015, a rise of 18.4 percent in a decade, as people live longer, the United Nations agency said in a report.

Global economic losses exceed US$1 trillion a year, it said, referring to lost productivity due to apathy or lack of energy that lead to an inability to function at work or cope with daily life.

“Depression is the single largest contributor to years lived with disability. So it’s the top cause of disability in the world today,” Dr. Dan Chisholm of WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse told a news briefing.

Depression is 1.5 times more common among women than men, he said.

I intend keeping a close eye on this discussion.

As well, I am still writing on two crip culture issues: “Sit-Down Comedy” (such as the work of Maysoon Zayid) and disability and gun control. Regarding the latter, we still believe laws should address actions and not classes of people, under most circumstances.

I am also reconsidering arguments about Basic Income, work, and employment. The most important conceptual issue remains an attention to specific language. We must not confuse work and employment. While some of us have jobs, we do not necessarily do work. And, while some of us do work, we do not necessarily have jobs. Some writers continue to conflate or confuse the two terms. I hope to continue to address this conceptual slippage.

I spent a lot of time with two films this week: Forough Farrokhzad’s The House is Black and Jay Rosenblatt’s Human Remains. I finished a draft of a short article on The House is Black, where I consider the “delayed” aspects of this 1962 film about a leprosarium in North East Iran. I am also intrigued by the shift from a male narrator at the start to a female narrator–Farrokhzad–at the end. I will publish this piece in several formats when I have finished it.

After some time away, I have returned to slow reading John Horgan’s The End of Science: Facing the Limits of Knowledge in the Twilight of the Scientific Age and Julie Salverson’s Lines of Flight: An Atomic Memoir. Responses to these texts are percolating, but this paragraph from the final pages of Lines of Flight, deserves special consideration:

How far does catastrophe bleed? We live in a world from which there is no escape. It is the only home to which we can return, bloody and brilliant. We is there to do but muster the courage to feel our own emergency, take responsibility for it and ask what it means to how we live? We are overwhelmed by so much but we settle for so little. We desperately need each other and there is no road map. Because life is brutal is it then futile? Can we imagine a future that acknowledges the past but isn’t shackled to it, that reaches toward us as we risk a greeting? (193)

These questions demand an answer.

Since Foreign Influence just received copies of Robert B. Reich’s After-Shock: The Next Economy and America’s Future and Bernie Sanders’s Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In and I am still looking forward to seeing I am Not Your Negro, I might have few things to say about these texts in the weeks to come.

Be well,
Brian Bergen-Aurand

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