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Current Issue: Volume 23, No. 12. Week of April 10, 2005

Drawing from one of Yoshitomo Nara's books from MOCA.. The title is in Japanese. But the little girl's look and pose will give you an idea of this artristic movement. jeanne

Violence, Sexuality, and the Innocence of Childlike Dependency

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California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: April 8, 2005
Latest Update: April 12, 2005

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Topic of the Week:

Violence, Sexuality, and the
Innocence of Childlike Dependency

Link to Japan Society building is wrapped for
Little Boy: The Arts of Japan's Exploding Subculture: in right-hand column.

The new exhibit at the Japan Society in New York brings to mind lots of what we've been talking about lately. Yoshitomo Nara is one of the young Japanese Neo Pop artists whose work I happen to be very fond of. But I couldn't explain it as Murakami does according to Roberta Smith's review. Her recent article in the New York Times on the Japan Society Exhibit, "Little Boy: The Arts of Japan's Exploding Subculture, " helped me realize why I liked Nara's work. He's still my favorite of this group of artists, thought not the best known. His work is a little like David Lynch's movies for me, I don't understand them, but I "get it," I react with feeling, "Yeah, that's how it feels, that's what it's like." But I couldn't put it into words. Roberta Smith's review in the NY Times helped put it into words.

Now I'd like for you to try to "get it." How does the innocence of childlike dependency mingle with sexuality and violence all around us? What about the "darker" side of things that appear innocent and, in fact, in some ways, are? Is there a light side without a corresponding darker side? How did "Mean Girls" happen? Why did "Mean Girls" happen? Why does bullying happen? How does all of that relate to our national values and culture?

Please check out My World on April 8, 2005 for more suggestions for discussion. jeanne

NEWS, Announcements, and

Current Discussion Topics:

  • Learning Records for Spring 2005 Adding slowly to learning records from messages on transformdom. sorry for delay. This will take a while, but if you'll send me your messages numbers, it will help me get it up faster. Please be patient with me. I'm retired this semester. jeanne

  • Learning Records with Grades for Spring 2005 I'm trying to set up a record sheet that will let you know that I have adequate material on learning records to justify your grade. If I put up a B that may just mean I need more material, not that there was something wrong with what you submitted. I'm including brief comments. Mostly today, I just set up a template for doing this. If you've got a message on transform_dom that would you would like me to use for grade evidence, just send me the message no. at jeanne. Otherwise, I'll just keep going through the transform_dom discussions in reverse chronological order. jeanne

  • Instructions page for joining transform_dom and transspan

    Famous People and Concepts We Should Have Heard Of, But Often Haven't.


    • Takashi Murakami Curator. Catalog of "Little Boy: The Arts of Japan's Exploding Subculture, " on Japanese Neo Pop Movement, compared by Roberta Smith to:
      "a bit like a combination of Jackson Pollock, the chief innovator, and Clement Greenberg, the chief explicator, of Abstract Expressionism. He was one of the first Japanese Neo Pop artists to break the ice in terms of recycling Japanese popular culture. Then, in Mr. Murakami's work, writings and the exhibitions he organized, Neo Pop mutated into the more historically conscious Superflat style, which embraces the emphasis on surface decorations and patterns indigenous to Japanese visual traditions. With "Little Boy," the final show in Mr. Murakami's "Superflat Trilogy," which Japan Society has organized with the Public Art Fund, things become even more elaborate because psychology is introduced.

      "The show is a sociological argument made with visual evidence, but because this evidence comes from one of the world's most aesthetically sophisticated and refined cultures, it packs a tremendous visual punch. At times one can do nothing more than hang on for the ride. . . "

    • Yoshitomo Nara Artist in Japanese Neo Pop movement with cartoons and animation (anime). jeanne has lots of Nara's books on the little girl with a quirky look and a knife in her hand, and the innocent little puppy.


    • otaku - "youth-driven phenomenon of otaku (roughly translated as “geek culture” or “pop cult fanaticism”. ( from Publisher's review of "Little Boy" catalog on of "Little Boy".) In Roberta Smith's NY Times article she describes otaku as:
      " . . . a darker subculture called otaku (nerd or geek is the nearest translation) . . . "Otaku are nihilistic misfits known for their obsession with nuclear catastrophe, monster films, science-fiction anime and manga, and what might be called an inappropriate fixation on schoolgirls." Backup of Backup of From a Mushroom Cloud, a Burst of Art Reflecting Japan's Psyche

    • "Little Boy" - the nickname given to the atomic bomb we dropped on Hiroshima.

    • interpretation and its relationship to knowledge - in order to "know" we must either interpret what our senses have told us, or accept the interpretation of someone else whose interpretations we trust. Either way we do not manage to get around interpretation. Here we encounter existentialism. More on that later.

    Jeanne's Lectures for Spring 2005

    Visual Sociology:

    • Laryl Hancock Photography A Gallery on the Internet that I came across while following the Arizona flag on which the cross appeared. Urban Legends linked to this gallery, saying there were more photos here of the flag in question. But the home page wasn't much help, so I clicke on the [slideshow] in the upper right corner. Did find one photo, but there are 800 there. I don't have time to play, but I find her photographs lovely. Might be worth a look see when you've got a little spare time. Her photos make me want to go ff and strat painting. Enjoy. Added April 11, 2005.

    • By Tifenn Python for the LA Times on front page of Calendar, April 3, 2005.

      jeanne modified background since scanner wasn't giving right colors. Painting by Tifenn Python for the LA. Times.
      Background modified by jeanne in accord with what she was seeing. April 3, 2005

      The coloring and the bars on the clothing that substitute for the prison bars struck me as powerful and perhsps able to stimulate considerable discussion on incarceration.

      Could we interpret this painting for the Dark Side of Innocence?

    Academic Support

    Using Academic Language Effectively

    Merriam-Webster Dictionary Search:

    and Careers

    • Resumes:

    • Letters of Recommendation:

      • Letters of Recommendation: How to get me to respond to your request. Many of you need letters. If you will follow this format, I can do them quickly and make them good.
      • Dog Letters If you do not give me adequate information, but do manage to get my attention, you may end up with a dog letter. That is a letter that says that you work well with people, that you are enthusiastic, that you persist at getting things done, and that everyone likes you. Of course, my dog gets along well with people, brings his ball to them, is enthusiastic, and persists at getting them to take his ball. Everyone likes my dog. That's a dog letter. It's so general it could be about my dog. jeanne

    • Career Options You Might Not Have Considered

      • visual media and their interdependence with other means of knowing to understand that we are not totally rational creatures deciding things apart from our feelings and values. Wolfowitz (new President of the World Bank to aid developing countries AND principle advocate of the Iraq War) might feel very differently when he is exposed to visual and aural images of the poor developing countries that have not before been his primary concern. So we want to know how best to present those developing countries visually. And we might find that we can have a career doing that sort of thing, so it does reflect on us as individuals. Added April 2, 2005.

    That Was Fun! Sneaky Strokes and Flying Good Dogs

    Flying Dog is also a painting by Zhang Kai. Best I've every come across to illustrate our site with magic numbers and unicorns and whipped cream cats and now, flying dogs:

    Flying Good Dogs: Whenever something happens in class that works out well, that inspires you, that helps in studying, whatever, take a few minutes to send us an e-mail. We'll post it where all of us can learn from it, including other teachers.

    You can also send an email to the Who to Take Site: