Clare Market Review The London School of Economics East Building 203, Houghton Street London, WC2A 2AE email@example.com www.claremarketreview.com
The Journal of the London School of Economics Studentsâ€™ Union Volume CVI, Issue 3
Editor-in-Chief Alexandra Kane Creative Director Elli Graham Contents Editors Phyllis Lui James Callender Design Editors Ann-Marie Eu William Baskin-Gerwitz Aaron Davis Copy Editors Aleona Krechetova Shreya Krishnan Kate Ryan Associate Designer Grace Fletcher Development Manager Alice Pearson
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LSE Women’s Hockey Team, c1920s. Courtesy of the LSE archives.
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Readers of Clare’s previous issue might have noticed that despite being themed the ‘Human Science’ issue, it turned out to be a noticeably male issue. Characters, themes and even mentions of the female variety were strangely scarce. A cynic might take this to indicate that ‘human’ continues to lose the first syllable in society’s view of human endeavour. Alternatively, it might be that the previous issue veered unexpectedly towards abstraction, into a philosophical terrain that shied away from thinking about the practical experiences of life.
However, an equilibrium seems to have been reached with this issue. Though there is no theme, our pieces appear to be more in the world, concerned with what is happening, what it means, and what to think about. We hope readers will contribute concerns of their own, and we hope to continue the conversation next year. Happy reading, Clare
Opposite: Bronislaw Malinowski , c1920 Courtesy of the LSE archives.
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Contents 01 Sarcophagus Anonymous
17 Bands Are Fragile Keith Allardyce
05 The Onyx Leviathan Benjamin Butler & Anonymous
21 The Tale of a Lipstick Socialist Sasha Salmon
09 One Ring to Rule Them All Stephanie Oula
29 Sable Alexandre Tavin
15 Today Marko Grba
31 Untitled Sophie Boutillier
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Contents 37 Briefed Jussi Heinonkoski 39 Jones Roquentin
INSIDE COVERS & III Derek Hornchurch 07 Jussi Heinonkoski 14, 30, 36 Grace Fletcher FEATURED ARTISTS
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Sarcophagus By Anonymous
The Ancient Egyptians buried their kings, their leaders, with their most treasured items deep within the recesses of the pyramids for the afterlife. In the full spirit of the ascendancy of the queens of our generation, I decided to bury our 21st century queen with a potentially misconstrued idea of what we believe are our most treasured items or qualities today.
and ass are on display, for all to see, which is important nowadays to rise to the fame and fortune of the level once held by the great pharaohs of North Africa. The white face, combined with the made up lips, focuses all attention on the face, whereby asymmetry and the artificial enhancement of make-up ensures that attention is placed on exterior perfection.
Working at a purely abstract level (which might take a few pints to fully comprehend) I chose to envelope a mannequin in metres of bright fuchsia cloth, unbound from her body. Mummies were wrapped tightly in linen, but in an age where exposure and the myopic mentality of carpe diem, superseding any thoughts of selfpreservation are paramount, an open casket, so to speak, seemed appropriate. Tits
She’s broken in half, partly to illuminate a sense of displacement and of disconnectedness, disconnectedness from the history of death’s past and of today’s reality. The prevalence of pink was chosen in a moment of weakness to the powers of stereotype, and a shameful buckling to any trace of feminism within, as pink was picked for its representation of superficiality. ‘Pretty in pink’ is all that came to mind, and thus VOLUME CVI, ISSUE 3 02
it provided an apt abstraction of the superficiality that surrounds us all. Pharaohs would be buried amongst treasures and equally superficial items, which would denote their wealth in the afterlife. However, this mannequin is buried with… Nothing. Mainly because I couldn’t afford to leave a couple of iPhones lying around, but also because the quest for physical perfection and the objectification of our bodies ultimately leaves us with nothing. It appears that the earthly physical is all one has, and this doesn’t bode well when one considers that in Greek, “sarcophagus” means “flesh-eating”.
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The Onyx Leviathan By Benjamin Butler & Anonyous Demon of the waves – she is death’s hand scything through the foamy crests, her phallic bow thrusting the essence of terror upon her condemned foes. Her haggard carcass shorn over countless decades lusts after the ruination of faceless abominations, eternal overlords – those deities long forgotten shall so rue whence they unleashed Gaia’s typhonic might. One mind and many bodies labour as Her captain rages at the wheel over past injustices, not one scorned amongst them -- but cast away and forgotten. A lone chant cuts the briny air: “We are the forsaken! Souls adrift in waters deep! 05
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Conquerors we were, Returning unwanted, We were cast away to wed the sea.” Fiery rage quenched the blade-like hatred of purpose. Stalking from the mist, the huntress emerges: her colours red; quarter, none was given. Cannons crack like thunder, the crew spills forth from the ship like torrents of rain as violent as Hell itself, but with none of the hatred… merely dispassionate destruction of all. The demon’s prey lies in cinders and timbres, strewn wreckage over the tranquil waters. The raped vessel smoulders, forgotten, a testament to God’s wrath… embodied, untamed – bent to no will but the sea’s… VOLUME CVI, ISSUE 3 06
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One Ring to Rule Them All By Stephanie Oula
Of all the material traditions of the Western world, that of the Diamond Engagement Ring has the most lurid mythology surrounding it. What other object in our society embodies rarity, brilliance, beauty, wealth, devotion, commitment, eternity, and love, all at once? The object itself is so mythological in its properties, that it brings to mind the master myth creator Tolkien: “One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them, one ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them.” While the diamond engagement ring may not necessarily hold the greatest evil of Middle Earth within its slim band, it undeniably holds some evils of this earth, though perhaps not physically. After all, every diamond engagement 09
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ring has heavy gender, social, cultural, and political baggage that comes attached to its equally hefty price tag. But the issues implicit in the ring are not necessarily the most troubling aspects of the diamond engagement ring—there are a thousand such issues surrounding nearly every object Westerners interact with, from the sweatshop clothing we wear to the stolen Indian groundwater we drink. What is most disturbing about the diamond engagement ring is its very invention—that we have been conditioned as a people to associate it with the most astonishing of qualities, and ironically, the qualities that are truly impossible to buy: Eternity and Love. And yet in spite of all of this, in spite of blood diamonds, gender inequality, and conspicuous consumption, in spite of
our knowledge of advertising gimmicks and marketing ploys, at the end of the day, we still buy into the diamond myth. Why? It can’t be just aesthetics. When we make the decision to believe the diamond myth, it is for the same reason that we believe many things—because we want to, because we have a distinct feeling that our believing in something just might render it real. If we allow ourselves to believe that the diamond engagement ring really symbolizes true and eternal love, we allow that such a love exists and is truly within our grasp. The history of the engagement ring purportedly dates back to prehistoric times, where prehistoric man supposedly tied the arms and legs together of their potential mates to prevent them from escaping. After some time the female’s legs were untied and if she did not attempt to run away, she would be allowed to wear only a small cord tied to one of her fingers, and thus, the tradition of placing a binding circlet on a woman’s finger as a sign of betrothal was born and continues to the present day. While the history of the engagement ring is a long one, the history of the diamond engagement ring is a relatively recent one. The first recorded instance of a diamond engagement ring was one given by Archduke Maximilian of Austria to Mary of Burgundy in 1477. Diamonds were extremely rare stones until the nineteenth century, so up until then, only the super wealthy and royalty of Europe could
afford diamonds.1 However, in 1870, huge diamond mines were found in South Africa. The market was flooded with diamonds and prices dropped rapidly, as “diamonds had little intrinsic value—and their price depended almost entirely on their scarcity…The major investors in the diamond mines realized that they had… to merge their interests into a single entity that would be powerful enough to control production and perpetuate the illusion of scarcity of diamonds”. And so the De Beers Consolidated Mines, Ltd. was formed in 1888. For most of the twentieth century, De Beers “not only either directly owned or controlled all the diamond mines in southern Africa but also owned diamond trading companies in England, Portugal, Israel, Belgium, Holland, and Switzerland”2 and almost singlehandedly invented the myth of the diamond engagement ring we are familiar with today. In 1938, war was looming in Europe, the U.S. was still in the throes of the Great Depression—and De Beers hired the N.W. Ayer advertising agency to expand the American diamond market. As a result, Hollywood movies featured prominent product placements, celebrities wore diamonds for public appearances, and fashion designers and the media were fed news about the “increasing diamond trend.” It was a highly successfully campaign, with diamond ring sales going up 55%. In 1947, De Beers launched the next phase of their advertising campaign, which emphasized a psychological VOLUME CVI, ISSUE 3 10
approach. In Edward Jay Epstein’s exposé of the De Beers-manufactured diamond mythology, entitled “The Diamond Invention,” he reveals this: To further develop the diamond mind in America, N. W. Ayer asked both psychologists and sociologists to analyse “basic human wants,” such as “comfort,” “freedom from fear,” “longer life,” “the ability to attract the opposite sex,” and “social approval.” It justified this psychological investigation to De Beers in the following terms: “An advertiser who can make a close and believable association between one or more of the “basic human wants” and his product, can rouse a more vigorous and more universal demand for his product and in the process tend to separate this demand from control by consumers’ current economic situation.”3
One recent controversy and reason that has been brought to public attention is that of blood, or conflict diamonds. The U.N. defines conflict diamonds as “diamonds that originate from areas controlled by forces or factions opposed to legitimate and internationally recognized governments, and are used to fund military action in opposition to those governments”.4 Blood diamonds have helped to fund the civil wars that have torn apart sub-Saharan African countries and allowed rebel groups to commit atrocious and sickening acts, including, but not limited to recruitment of child soldiers, rape, genocide, and other crimes against humanity.
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There are also a host of gender issues that accompany the giving or receiving of a diamond engagement ring. Meghan O’Rourke of Slate, in “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Worst Friend: The Trouble With Engagement Rings,” argues, “that in an age of equitable marriage the engagement ring is an outmoded commodity.” O’Rourke points out that the diamond engagement ring of the 1930s was a symbolic financial commitment on the man’s side, and served to assure women that men weren’t just trying to get them into bed, writing that “Implicitly, it would seem, a woman’s virginity was worth the price of a ring, and varied according to the status of her groom-to-be.” She says that, “an engagement ring clearly makes a claim about the status of a woman’s sexual currency. It’s a big, shiny NO TRESPASSING sign, stating that the woman wearing it has been bought and paid for, while her beau is out there signfree and all too easily trespass-able, until the wedding”.5 With all these increasingly solid reasons to not buy a diamond engagement ring, why do 88% of engaged women today have one?6 It is extraordinarily difficult to find a written piece that defends the diamond engagement ring—possibly because it either needs no defending or cannot be defended. A defense of the diamond engagement ring might argue that in this day and age, its gender issues are non-existent and exist in the eye of the beholder only. Perhaps it is hard to find a defense of the diamond engagement ring
because no one has truly declared cultural war on it. The issue of blood diamonds was “solved” with a faulty certification system that was set up to assuage Western guilt over buying diamonds, which it did. Proponents of the diamond engagement ring have largely ignored any feminist calls for its abandonment and male vocalization of gender issues has been nearly non-existent. Diamond engagement rings don’t need to be defended because no one is attacking them—yet. The fact that we are still so attracted to the idea of the diamond engagement ring, knowing what we know about blood diamonds, gender inequality, and rampant conspicuous consumption, has led me to this conclusion: the marketing worked. So, the American public has been brainwashed by a good advertising campaign. This occurrence is hardly revolutionary—isn’t almost every material aspect of our lives simply a result of effective advertising? It isn’t a question of whether or not we’ve been brainwashed, it’s why we’re allowed ourselves to be brainwashed. As De Beers’ psychological studies show, any advertising that works is advertising that speaks to some desire within ourselves and lures us with the promise of our desire being fulfilled. The diamond engagement ring proposes to satisfy many different aspects of human yearning: a certain status, yes; wealth, naturally; and perhaps the greatest of all human desires,
love. Is it any wonder that the marketing campaigns for diamond rings emphasize rarity, refinement, beauty, brilliance, uniqueness, and eternity? As the chosen symbol of love and commitment, the diamond ring purportedly embodies and epitomizes the ideal conception of human love. Subconsciously, inhabitants of the First World now see the diamond ring as a tangible representation of ultimate love— or so the diamond industry would have us think. People buy into the diamond myth not only because they have been persuaded to do so, but also because they want to believe it is true. As a man-made artifact, its very advertising reveals what we want—a love as brilliant, as rare, as eternal as the diamond, and as continuous and binding as the bright band on which it rests. We long for a multifaceted love that shines in the dimmest of lights—a strong love that only another diamond could cut, one that has lain deep under the earth for millennia, hidden in a rough casing that conceals its flawless heart. We want a love that will outlast our own mortal lives, a love seemingly composed of pure light. A love tailored to our specific needs and wants—a love that is perpetual, beautiful, and unchanging. That is why we believe the diamond myth; we want to honestly believe in the possibility of such an astounding love and we want to believe that such a love can be symbolized in the diamond engagement ring—that with this ring, we might be on our way to such a love, or better yet, already there. VOLUME CVI, ISSUE 3 12
We want extraordinary love—in every sense of the word— and we are willing to pay for it.
1. “The History of the Engagement Ring.” Diamond Wholesale Corporation.com. 29 November 2008, http://www.diamondwholesalecorporation.com/TheHistoryoftheEngagementRing 2. Epstein, Edward Jay, “Have You Ever Tried to Sell a Diamond?” The Atlantic. February 1982. 29 November 2008, http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/198202/diamond 3. Epstein, Edward Jay. “The Diamond Invention.” Edward Jay Epstein.com. 1982. 29 November 2008, http://www.edwardjayepstein. com/diamond/prologue.htm 4. “Conflict Diamonds.” UN.org. 21 March 2001. 29 November 2008, http://www.un.org/ peace/africa/Diamond.html 5. O’Rourke, Meghan. “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Worst Friend: The Trouble With Engagement Rings.” Slate Magazine. 11 July 2007. 29 November 2008, http://www.slate.com/ id/2167870/ 6. ibid OPPOSITE ARTWORK BY GRACE FLETCHER
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By Marko Grba Today, ever since I woke, I looked as if through a veil; And the clouds were gray, the only light being the electric one. A friend passed in the lunchtime without saying hello. Some children passed later on, and they cursed. Not till dusk did sky brighten.
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Bands Are Fragile By Keith Allardyce
I’m 40 this year and for more than half my life I have been part of a band called The Lorelei. That’s The Lor-el-aye. We always have to say it twice to folk who ask…our drummer, Keith, had a standard answer in the mid 90’s that was, “it’s a magic rabbit that eats your shoes at night”. The Lorelei is a rock in the middle of the river Rhine, upon which a siren sits and sings to the sailors, luring them to their death. All clear? Good, good, I will carry on then.
The Lorelei 1.0 wanted to “make it”. To be honest, we weren’t really very sure what that meant, but we wanted to anyway. We were asked to submit a song for a new Scottish music magazine, M8, that was putting a free tape (a small plastic device specifically for recording the top 40 off the wireless on a Sunday night) of up and coming Scottish bands on the front cover.
We are six friends, and four years ago we all got back together to play music again after a break of nine years, all through more of a need, than a want. It’s different this time round - not only do we have a new singer and front man, John, but everything has changed.
It all sounds very easy - and it was, all we did was play and we got attention, we never really actually knew how to go about getting the elusive “deal”. We all knew we wanted one though, ‘cause that’s what you did if you were a band.
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Off the back of this we got a record deal – yes, that’s right, a record deal!
Wasn’t it? We were described as “Punk Ceilidh” or “Folk Rock” or “Celtic Thrash”. The band was the vision of our original singer and songwriter. He possessed a fantastic voice and talent for writing songs and he could connect with people. (Unfortunately reliability and sobriety could not be included on his CV at the end of the Lorelei 1.0). We were on the way up and didn’t have the slightest clue about it. Five boys and a girl bumbling around the country in a transit minibus was pretty much what we were up to. Rob was our manager, and he was just what we needed - we trusted him and he loved band life and came with us as much as his job allowed. He had the confidence to actually speak to folk and spent ages on the phone putting tours together. At this time we were all over the country. A couple of us had jobs - one a student, one a barman, one on the dole and one still at school…so going away with the band was relatively easy. It was a fantastic time…and we were a living cliché. Yellow transit van, dodgy gear (we always said that our bass player, Jonny, was the circuit breaker), a friend as our manager, long hair and all clueless. I remember the transit minibus (B441 MRS) with nostalgia; it always managed to get where we needed to be. My favorite story about the van was coming home one Sunday. We didn’t have enough fuel to
get home and had to come up with a plan to get there. We were far too nice a bunch to brass neck it and steal petrol, we had no cheques left in our (cough) business account and the gig fees were gone/lost/ drank/left somewhere or long forgotten. After some thought we came up with the idea of getting a lift home from the AA – but we couldn’t afford a big repair so needed something else. We decided to break the distributor cap that transfers the spark to the engine. It worked…I hit it with a stick hard enough to break it, and being a Sunday we had no way of getting a replacement. And, we got towed home with a quarter of a tank too…result!! In 1992 we hooked up with Tam. He was a guy who firstly, liked us and our tunes and secondly, could get us gigs in London. We loved London and went there as often as possible. Tam became our manager and did so much for the band, trying to create a buzz around us. He had been doing gigs forever - that’s what he did. Looking back, he was doing it for us the old fashioned way, with one eye firmly on longevity. He knew we were a touring live band, and he set about generating an interest in us. After six years of trying, sharing an increasingly shoddy transit, living on “Spoop” - (a delicate combination of tomato soup and spam), two albums and few sales, cracks were beginning to show. Inevitably, musical similarities, shared body odour, a collective lack of responsibility and alcohol led to us VOLUME CVI, ISSUE 3 18
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splitting. We’d followed a classic pattern and become caricatures of ourselves. What drove us was a blind belief in our sound and a realisation that we were doing something no one else could. It was ours! The magic of playing together – the feeling when it’s all “flowing” and you don’t even have to think about it is like no other. Being lost in that moment is what its all about. That’s where the drive for the music comes from. For six very different people to come together and create something we believed to be beautiful was something that needed to be protected. As our mandolin player, Flossie, said later when we were discussing getting back together, “Those years defined me”. Would I do anything different? I would have loved to just 100% gone for it in a “ran away with the circus” type of way. But then I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this, with three beautiful wee girls and a life I love. Everything has a payoff in my book. I have no regrets and wouldn’t change a thing. So hear I am, nearly 40, a pile of gigs lined up and an album of new tunes; every one written by us all. We are all now Husbands, Wives, Mums, Dads, Teachers, Doctors, ICT lecturers, Managers and 999 Call Operators. We are still The Lorelei, and I reckon we always will be. Bands are fragile, but when handled
with care they can survive. And to still be excited, passionate and genuinely care about what we do 20 years on with very little to show for it, I like to think we have “made it”.
10 TIPS FOR TOURING BANDS
What happens on the road stays on the road. Never discuss band politics when you’re wasted. Do something other than sit in a bar or the van waiting to play a gig. Get out and about, take a football or whatever. Saves you getting too pissed in the afternoon through boredom. Remember that no matter how big you reckon you are in your hometown, when you walk into a venue somewhere else, to them you’re nobody. Remember to eat. It’s easy to spend three weeks pissed and having nothing but the odd kebab and Ginsters, but you’ll soon have no energy for the shows at night. All you can eat pizza places are your friend. Collect offer vouchers before you go. Start smoking rollies instead. Driver gets the best bed/chair/floor. Get AA cover before you go. You can’t have too much gaffa tape. Insert a tracking device into your drummer. VOLUME CVI, ISSUE 3 20
By Alexandre Tavin When she comes down in the kitchen that morning, she knows he hasnâ€™t slept that much last night. Cigarette butts floating in cold instant coffee. Cold instant morning. And when she stops looking at the bottles of beer left on the rug she looks outside. Heâ€™s seating in the grass and the sand, he looks at the fence and behind the fence the street and if you turn right the Pacific Ocean.
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By Sophie Boutillier This is my second draft of this essay. The first was discarded - who would want to read about my experience in an event as unoriginal to the feminist consciousness as a fashion show? And yet, ‘unoriginal’ as it may be, its effects are not irrelevant. Whilst they may not be new additions to a conversation, they continue to generate cause for concern. However, my embarrassment at writing a personal narrative about modelling kept me from speaking at all. However, I soon faced a double struggle: dealing with the conflicts of participating in the problematic institution of modelling, and feeling powerless to make a statement about it. I felt trapped. I had become a silent perpetrator of a practice that had caused me significant pain, and 31
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undoubtedly caused pain in others. Not talking about it constituted not questioning it, and buying into an exclusive construction of value. Talking about it meant stringing together an unintelligible and inconclusive account of my participation, bordering on narcissistic dither. It was not until I gave up on writing altogether that I realised the trap was part of what made my experience so difficult to write about. But the difficulty was also what made writing necessary. When Gloria Anzaldúa1 wrote Speaking in Tongues a letter to the Third World Woman Writer, she may not have been speaking to me, but I still take her advice to heart. Following her maxim to “put your shit on paper”, for the second time, I continued.
On February 4th I was a model in the LSE Fashion Show. It was my first time modelling and not something I’d ever anticipated doing. I became involved, at first, as a volunteer. When I arrived at the introductory meeting, however, it was clear that models were not being chosen on a voluntary basis. This was an active, self-promoting, competitive exercise. If I was to participate, it was not as a passive subject, not as someone ‘just helping out’. Uneasy, I did the walk and had the photos taken and filled out my information, including my dress size. Standing amongst the other would-be models I was aware of a palpable change in my thinking and my body. Almost unconsciously I began an inventory of calories consumed and recent visits to the gym. I felt uncomfortable in my body, longing to escape it. Appalled at my reaction I thought, ‘this isn’t me’; ‘I know better’; ‘I don’t care about this stuff’. But the way I was feeling exposed the fractures in my personal and political stance. When faced with these sources of anxiety, no longer buffered by academic distance, I was not nearly as immune or enlightened as I’d imagined. When I was selected as a model I had to make a decision to fully engage with the show. The excuse that I had committed was inadequate. Plenty of other girls would have taken my spot had I withdrawn. Why did I want to stay, despite the pain? Was it to have the opportunity to play a role from which I would normally
be excluded? Was it my internal masochist coming out? Some Freudian repression of self-loathing for not living up to social standards? For whatever combination of reasons, I decided to carry on, using the show as a mental exercise to learn to control and reverse – or at the very least get to know - the currents of self-deprecation that had made themselves evident that first afternoon. Something that had such power over me would not go away if ignored. Over Christmas a sign on a friend’s wall told me what I needed to know. “The Mind Makes Everything”. Power operates on and between individuals constructing meanings and judgements about the world and people within it. These actions intimately involve the mind. This does not make them simple, easy or arbitrary by any means. On the contrary, they are extensively regulated and weighted with consequences. But they are not impossible to change. Thoughts are not immaculately conceived. Rather they are cultivated through the environment of the thinker. My challenge would be to wade through the swamp of thoughts and examine them. I felt that if I could come out feeling good about the process, not drowned by the swamp – or stuck in it – that I’d be better equipped to counter self-destructive tendencies, the “I’m not good enough”. This wouldn’t mean a lack of ambition or selfcritique, but a lessening of the unproductive fixation on social pressures imbued with motives and consequences I don’t wish to validate. VOLUME CVI, ISSUE 3 32
I felt that I didn’t belong among the other models. I didn’t see my appearance as commensurate with theirs. Sometimes I wondered if I’d been chosen to represent a token of diversity, the bigger, boring looking one. Nevertheless, I knew I was not a radical departure from the normative model. Perhaps I’m heavier and less striking, but I know that I also benefit from the privileges of attractiveness our society expends. Given this, I struggled with my new personal development project. Countering beauty conventions internally, learning to mitigate some of the steamrolling effects of pop culture, might help me to preserve my self-esteem or enhance my self-awareness, but it would do nothing for the external audience, leaving the fashion show as a practice untouched. I would be just another pretty girl in a fashion show. This is not easy to write. But to not say it would only conceal my privilege. Writing towards an ethic of honesty and accountability to my words and my readers, I try to expose myself. My taking part in the show, the opportunity to engage with the pressures and policing of modelling, was itself a privilege. The question I was left to grapple with was how this experiment could avoid being a completely narcissistic project? My writing is a step.
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At the first rehearsal my expectation was confirmed: a disappointing lack of diversity in the models’ appearances. I don’t blame the organisers. I know they encouraged a variety of students to audition. Still, trying out for a fashion show is a self-selecting process. Showing up is contingent on one being able to see oneself in the role of a model, on having an embodied referent with which one can identify. Given the narrowness of the images available, a reflection of this narrowness in the student models was not surprising. I mentioned this lack of diversity and concurrent reproduction of exclusive and strictly defined beauty standards to some of the other models. They offered a variety of responses. None that I spoke with outwardly shared my worry. I wondered if this was because the discourse of modelling provides no room for ambiguity or questioning of purpose. Dissent is not built into the modelling subject as it is discursively produced. The descriptions below are my interpretations of the responses I encountered over the month of preparation for the show. I make no claim to the views of the speakers of which any expression would be only partial. What I try to do is speculate the effects of these responses within the context of the fashion show where modelling is at once constructed as a highly idealised and valorised act as well as a superficial practice not to be taken too seriously. Some said “umm” and looked at the floor.
Turning away from the problem that was always there, but was at that moment made visible.
so closely? The clothes justification left many important questions unanswered, veiling its exclusionary effects.
Some replied, “there’s nothing wrong with being tall and skinny”, eager, I would argue, to defend a valued position attached to a certain body type, their own.
The final two responses struck me the most. The first, that I should just have fun and forget about politics for a night. The second, that I should be reassured. Sure, beauty norms are exclusive and narrow, but doesn’t it feel good to be designated within their bounds?
Some pointed out the difference in height of the models. Call me a cynic, but this ‘diversity’ seemed as thin as the models themselves. The lack of diversity that is worrying has little – if anything - to do with height. Such a minor accommodation of difference was not sufficient to address with the problem at hand. The variables that provide diversity its richness are much greater and have far greater repercussions for the construction of bodies that matter.2 We should not be placated by a diversity that carries so little weight. “It’s about showing off the clothes” [rather than the bodies] was another justification. That the clothes are made for particular bodies was not acknowledged. Inanimate as they may be, the clothes are not neutral objects but charged with normative concepts of desirability, style, monetary and social value. This argument seemed especially hollow in the context of a rumour that the event would show the audience that “there are good looking girls at LSE”. If it was really just about the clothes, why did we need bodies at all? Wouldn’t mannequins suffice? If it was really just about the clothes, why did all the bodies chosen to wear them resemble each other
The construction of politics and fun as incompatible is an interesting one. At the moment I raised the concern, I had become, as Sara Ahmed3 has described, the feminist killjoy. Inequalities are painful. Happiness as a turning away is easier. Not turning away certainly hadn’t made me happy. Throwing myself into the show meant facing that I might not be as committed to my politics as I thought, that I might not be as secure as I thought and that I might care a whole lot more than I wanted to admit. As for finding comfort in my acceptance, far from revelling in a valued position, I felt exposed and sick about it. I was putting myself in a position to be criticised, and I feared my own critiques the most. Through no fault of their own, being in the same room as the other models was tantamount to my feeling fat and ugly. I knew this was mind-made, but it felt very real. I was angry with myself for letting it get to me. And I feared what it said about who I am, who I think I am, and the spaces in between. Would I, through my participation, VOLUME CVI, ISSUE 3 34
precipitate a similar feeling in someone in the audience? I felt anxious and guilty for taking part in something that precipitated such ill feeling. I wondered, if I wasn’t insecure about my appearance in this instance, if I didn’t feel all these pressures to look a certain way and at the same time pressure to not care about the pressures to look a certain way, would my participation matter? Could it ever be empowering? What about all the practices I don’t think twice about? What affects do they have on the bodies inscribed within and without of their bounds? All these thoughts and responses swirled through my head on the night of the show. The publicity and incessant camera flashes emphasised my exposure. What was I being exposed as? A privileged model? A hypocrite? Nobody so special as to merit pages of written analysis? I suppose it depends on who’s making the judgement. To my mind I was all of these things, and others. Even while I felt that it was a silly thing to get worked up about, I also recognized the process as a struggle and I felt, in a way I can never decide if I want to deny or acknowledge, brave facing it. The show came and went. Everyone involved put in a huge amount of effort and for all intents and purposes it was a success. It was also fun - but not because I learned to suspend my politics; rather, because I learned to suspend my social sensibilities, along with their dictation of inadequacy and conformity. It was in this moment of suspension that I felt a loosen35
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ing of the grip of a precarious existence tottering on such a narrow foundation of personal worth. And in this moment of suspension, for it is a moment, not a casting off forever - power is not so easily done away with, finding breathing room in the corset of social strictures that seem so binding and intractable. Not just ‘being okay’ with something I disagree with, but being able to take part and take it apart, without being taken down. Being okay with the contradictions I embody. Being okay with the fact that I am not a vessel for a distilled political stance or a perfect archetype, whether of feminism or fashion. But rather a person with all the inconsistencies personhood engenders. It was hard work to counter automatic leaps of ‘logic’, a game of snakes and ladders that always brought me back to square one. And yet, engaging, forcing reflection and analysis of the way I judge myself and others, began and furthered the process of re-thinking and re-acting to the daily pressures that create or try to undo those contradictions. Perhaps the discursively produced model subject is devoutly unambiguous, but subjectivities are never perfectly embodied. Indeed, there is no perfect body. And with that reminder I can come away from the process, however painful or enjoyable in different moments, however contradictory, however inconclusive, feeling less bound by this particular trap, and bound for the next one.
1. Gloria Anzaldúa, (1979) “Speaking in Tongues: A Letter to Third World Women Writers” from The Gloria Anzaldúa Reader p.34, Duke University Press, 2009 2. The term “bodies that matter” is adopted from the book by Judith Butler (1993) of the same name, “Bodies That Matter: The Discursive Limits of ‘Sex’”, Routledge, New York. Butler’s discussion is much more advanced and nuanced than mine, but I find her term productive in this instance. 3. All references to Sara Ahmed were taken from her public lecture, “Diversity Work as a Phenonmenological Practice”, held at LSE on Wednesday, 9 February, 2011. See http://www2.lse.ac.uk/publicEvents/ events/2011/20110209t1830vHKT.aspx for more information. VOLUME CVI, ISSUE 3 36
By Jussi Heinonkoski I’ve been fully briefed Someone delivered the full brief to me I could not be happier having been briefed now The information in the brief was relayed to me and I was overjoyed As I was being briefed I became aware of a piece of information Yes, I got the full brief I’ve only two days to live But I’ve been fully briefed And my brief covers three
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By Roquentin An hour has passed and that bar looks appealing now. That waitress though. Her repugnant teeth, yellowing at the corners remind you of butter melted over a black baking tray. That ghastly smile is enough to bring your goulash back to the brink of your mouth. Sambucca it is then. Black or white? She pours it for you in a way that reminds you of a toddler trying to fill its bucket with damp sand. That apron is revolting; you’re taken to the image of a morose laundry pile sitting in her dank studio flat in outer Budapest. It definitely isn’t happy, you can tell by its disconcerting smile. There’s a mangy cat sitting at its peak – malnourished. Its jaundiced eyes peering at you like marbles in a field. Damn that cat, what has it got against you anyway. She’s talking to you now, that waitress as if you’re on some fucking spir39
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itual holiday but forgot where you intended to go. Algiers was the better choice. With all the smells of hashish wafting to your nostrils and the spices, the colours, the camels. Might have been too much for you, you might have made intrepid trips into the desert. Wearing that Palestine scarf somebody gave you from Top Shop. Playing mujahideen warrior but forgetting the beard. You weren’t ready for that anyway; you wanted European familiarity and no civil wars. You wanted pretty girls, dark streets, occasional mind blanks and plenty of bleary eyed chat. This waitress though. She’s describing her day now, how pitiful. You’d rather slit the back of your eye lids with a blunt razor than listen to her dribble on to you about how her boyfriend doesn’t understand her. It’s your teeth sweetheart, you think. The poor
bloke can’t get near you without a gas mask and a truck full of mint spray. You’re sweating now, the heat is unbearable. Your linen shirt has clamped itself to your back giving you little room for your outer epidermis to breathe. All this listening isn’t helping things either. What was it you were waiting for? You look around. Take in the sights. Four walls, a floor, a door and a bar. Terrific. They’re brown those walls. Smeared even, smeared with rotting flesh it seems. A complex amalgamation of crushed snails, blended frogs and human faeces, delicately mixed to form some sort of exciting decorative paint. 75 minutes have passed and that bar looks livelier now. One of the bar stools has a burst cushion. Somebody has taken the time to colour in the stuffing to match the colour of the stool. The same effort it seems has gone into the counter top. The chipped wood filled in as subtle as possible by marker pen. You scratch your trainee mujahideen beard. Blink your eyes and return to looking around the room desperate for excitement or drama. She’s still talking to you but all you can see is her back whilst she cleans some beer glasses and occasionally pulls her g-string up so you can look at it in amazement that she even has the grace to wear one. You think about Deak square and how it might probably have been a better idea to hang around the two strange, mammary gland like, sculptures at the front of it. Spectacular. The dishwasher bell goes and the waitress flashes her beautiful smile at you again just in case you hadn’t already thrown up
the remainder of your goulash. You look at the beer mat. Carlsberg is written across it. No Carlsberg here though. Just Dreher, shit smeared walls, yellow toothed waitresses and a finished shot glass of Sambucca. Yeh you’ll have the Vodka and then the Rum if you’re feeling up to it. It’s only been four hours of solitary drinking. An hour and a half has passed and that bar looks interesting now. You can’t believe that waitress. Her left arm is serpent like. A slithering mess of scales and skin. Her index finger has a strange tattoo on it, looks like a mouse with a gun. The mouse runs up her arm, gun in hand and jumps onto the bar counter. It’s a Spanish mouse, its fur is browned in a costa del sol kinda way. Its teeth are chattering, almost grinding as if it has been popping pills the evening before. You can’t understand it because you don’t speak Spanish but it looks threatening. The absurdity of the situation dawns upon you so you squash it with your beer mat and return to staring at the waitresses’ hands. Her right arm is less interesting and colourful, less ink and animals anyway. Your mind wonders to her breasts. They’re ample and...well they’re breasts. But her teeth are rotten and yellow so all this is superfluous you think. Why are you here anyway? What were you getting away from? It might have been your work, the dull monotonous slide away from moral life filing papers and stamping signatures for objects that were meaningless to you. Was it the friendships formed? Could it have been the superficial chat about our futures, still wondering and dreaming VOLUME CVI, ISSUE 3 40
about it but never living for the esteemed ‘moment’? Constantly thinking about the next thing and the excitement it brings never just being and living. Was it the lack of love and care that you sought from females absent or missed? Where were they anyway? Was it her behind the bar in the yellow teeth and dirty cat festering apron? You dream about your return, you dream about the excitement and let yourself imagine your situation one year from now. It’s happy, you have a wife five foot three inches high, she weighs 112 pounds and has a small poodle. Then you remember that you hate dreaming so you stop. She was a waste though, you think. The girl you had spent the best part of 6 years with. She never smiled, that was comforting, at least she wasn’t a manic depressive. Just a depressive. Those are easier to handle though. You just act the fool, you crack strange jokes you play with sarcasm and irony and embellish the absurd. You find the funny in the dark corner and then castrate him with your wit. So it was more fun for you admittedly. What were you hoping for anyway? You were always going to move weren’t you? You were always seeking greener pastures. Your colour blindness wasn’t helping that ambition but it wasn’t hindering it either. So what if you were going from red to green, to brown to red, to green to maroon, to green to red to brown and then to green. It was still another pasture in your mind, possibly not as the crow flies but a sat nav would still pick it out. She was fickle though, and that’s what lead to this after all. It was never easy for you; presumably He wanted to 41
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challenge you from the start. Why else would He give you her in the first place. It was like care workers anonymous most of the time. You didn’t care though and inevitably that ended it for you. The misanthropy that’s bringing you down now has and will always continue to bring you down further still. Your only hope is meeting an adventurous nihilist. A progressive one maybe. One that is set in its ways but is still curious to check out that asian town or black basketball game just for box ticking measures. Perhaps you would sit together and moan continuously for weeks on end about the collapse of language and etymology. Perhaps you would congregate in dark areas only plotting the end of government and detailing the spreadsheet for the new world order. Perhaps you would plot murders only to then buy a carton of fags and plot your own. Perhaps you would bitch together about society’s woes only to forget you’ve left the stove on and have probably carbon monoxided out your neighbours. Then you remember you hate dreaming so you stop. Two hours have passed and that bar is talking to you now. That waitress might as well be naked and talking about her magical parrot Louis. Louis was gentle though. For all his faults he did have a gentle side and it was impossible to ignore it. His recent news that he was a diabetic affected him hard. As a result he treated you with disdain. Although 3 years prior he had bought you a delay guitar pedal for your acoustic banjo. Whilst useless it provided a lovely bookend for all your meta-
physics books and this alone made Louis a gentle sort of sorts. Louis wasn’t here now though. Where were you anyway? I thought Herne Hill looked different at night. Somebody has pushed the walls in on you. A cheap joke but an effective one. The sort of joke somebody might play on a supply physics teacher who has only been contracted out for PE teaching. The waitress is playing with butterflies now. All manner of things are happening it seems. She’s hidden her mouse anyway. But where did these butterflies come from? She’s offering you crisps. They’re salty. You’re surprised but you’re not sure why. And then you start thinking that you’re not sure why anything. You’re not even sure why you are here. Why did you come here? To this bar? To this waitress? You run a list of 10 in your head but can only think of two. You want to die or you are looking for somebody who wants you to live. Either way your options are limited. Maybe the waitress does know, why else would she continually talk to you about nothing. She knows why you are here. It must be obvious from your face. A face can tell many stories. You remember one from your childhood that told an amazing tale of horses with pens for hands darting across the middle east writing banal law after banal law stopping only for houmous and falafel. It was an amazing story. The horse had no name however and neither did the laws. But a face can tell many stories. The waitress hadn’t discussed your face yet so for now you leave her out of your enquiry. It just left the bar for inquisition.
Two and a half hours and the bar is silent now. That waitress seems to be calling it a night. She’s clearing up around you. You’re still no closer to closure but the bar has worked for you. You’re comforted in a slightly disappointing way. Disappointed because you’ve done this before, you remember all this well. You even remember her even though you’ve been trying to forget her. But she’s still there and she isn’t leaving anytime soon. The night is dark. It’s inviting you outside, it’s enticing you, and it’s seducing you. Like a bear might do whilst you hold a pot of honey, index finger inserted. The night is ambiguous it’s all unknowing. There’s no more certainty out there then in here. Outside there’s doubt, inside there’s routine, organisation. Outside it’s a mavericks world, lawless to those who can bend the laws. It’s unfair outside, not everyone is on chance. Some are riding luck. Others are looking for it. You’re not going outside just yet. You’re not ready for that just yet. The waitress wants you out though. It’s closing time for everyone now. The stool squeaks and moans in protest. An imprint of your behind is left on its top. Off you go now, off you go into the night. Ignore the waitress your relationship is over. Grab what courage you have and push into the night. Push as hard as you can, push off into the night. Push off. It’s time to push off. And so you leave the bar and push off into the temerarious night still trying to remember why you were even in the bar in the first place.
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i am bored with poetry and its poverty abundant along the witty lines traced of varying emotion, and in the emptiness apart and without you. Keithfrom Allardyce the simple truth is, since he was has been known (that as Beefy if words aspire to such things)with 11. He lives in Aberdeenshire of sentence, hisfinishing beautifulawife, Lindsay and three is to realise that daughters Beth (11), Daisy (8), Peggy i’ve merely stopped, full Tom. They (5), and Dougal the ginger of more to say to you own a lovely old VW campervan called than ever could, Ella. iwww.thelorelei.co.uk and left to say less that i should like. Sophie Boutillier how very mindless spent nine months living in Mombasa. it is to punctuate During her time there, she passed many these of thought young,lines homeless boys passed out on with charming rhythms the sidewalks with no other posessions when thea only besides bottlestrands of glue. and flows of affection that matter, are those Grace Fletcher that are softly whispered studies Social Anthropology at the LSE close to heart. having dramatically changed from an and isn’t true that art degree to an academic one. She is ainterested sentencein can be just of animals. theonly anatomies so long and to some end,from dinosaurs. Her favourite bones are and stanzas only go on The funniest bones are from a tortoise. for so long? that’s not fair or very desirable, and i hardly care that i’d have to turn a pagei suppose the point is to ignore the spaces and lines between us because i’d like to come and see you again.
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Marko Grba was born and educated in Croatia and pbtain an MSc in physics from the University of Zagreb. He is now studying for a further MSc in Philosophy of Science. He has been published in literary journals in Coatia and at Poetry. Magazine.com Jussi Heinonkoski generally does not like to write about himself in the third person. This might or might not correlate with his interest in all things social science, and lately, political economy. He has conducted sporadic excursions into “the arts”, most of which, quite rightly remain unpublished. The two exceptions can be found in this issue.
Contributors Derrick Hornchurch likes tables, so much so that you might just find him crouching underneath one near you. If you are so fortunate as to think the table is talking to you, think otherwise and check underneath.
Sasha Salmon is a London Girl who somehow ended up at LSE doing Law and Anthropology. She’s scatty, wears silly clothes and loves doodling. She is a frequent friend to Clare.
Stephanie Oula wears dresses and has poor time management skills. A native of the mythical land of New York, she is an IR General Course student, and when she isn’t thinking of ways to take over the world, she is writing.
Alexandre Tavin Raised 10 min from the ocean, in SouthWest of France, lived in Paris, Lyon, Adelaide and Lisbon, inspired by his morning black coffee, Hemingway, Adam Green, B.Chatwin, CCR, Cannery Row, Matisse, spaghetti, Howl, Stephen Shore’s photos, Sagres, PBR, E. Ionesco and wild camping. He’s a MSc Social Anthropology student at the LSE on land claims in Eastern Cape, South Africa.
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