Ode To Iggy Pop

Although it might seem like yesterday to some of the older generations, the year 1969 is already half a century ago. These historic 365 days gave room to Woodstock, saw the election of president Nixon, and were filled to the brim with events relating to the Vietnam war. All of this might make one think that a simple 12 months could not be filled with any more history and change, yet the year also contained the debut of The Stooges in the music industry. In a time where music, or popular culture in general, was mainly occupied with love, peace and overall flower power, the Michigan band  – initially formed by Jim Osterberg, better known as Iggy Pop – suddenly introduced a totally new sound. The controversial, dark and almost aggressive atmospheres that the group conveyed were  early signs of what Iggy Pop was about to become: a voice of the anti, a personification of Raw Power, or in other words, ‘the Godfather of Punk.’

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Writer’s Block Is Looking For New Editorial Board Members!

Writer’s Block is looking for fresh, new, enthusiastic, talented, and creative editorial board members! Do you like writing, editing, or do you have any journalistic aspirations? Then join the Writer’s Block editorial board!

What/who is Writer’s Block?
Writer’s Block magazine is the student magazine of the English department at the University of Amsterdam, but we have an international readership and contributors from across the globe. In our magazine, which is released every 3 months, we publish articles, essays, reviews, interviews, short stories, poetry, photography, and artwork. Even though the magazines are published in English, we also encourage students from outside the English department to join our board, so it doesn’t matter if you study astrophysics, law, pedagogy, history, or play the clarinet in the national orchestra – everyone is welcome at Writer’s Block.

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An Ode To Paint

There are two types of art I wholeheartedly admire: the art of writing and the art of painting. I love how artists practicing these two disciplines fill blank canvasses with diverse forms of emotional creativity. Of course, there are other artists such as dancers and singers who actively use their bodies to convey art, which is just as admirable. However, for some reason, words and colors speak more to me than movement and sound.

Today, I would like to focus on painters and walk you through some of my favorite works by four of my cherished painters. I am by no means an art historian or expert, but merely an appreciator of art. Excuse my lack of jargon and knowledge, but please enjoy my awe.

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Celebrating The End of Authenticity

A few weeks ago I attended a concert by a band named Thinner Lizzy. They performed songs by the Irish hardrock band Thin Lizzy, but they were all just middle-aged fans of the band. Their drummer wasn’t the best I’ve ever heard, and their singer couldn’t always keep track of the lyrics. Nonetheless I had a wonderful time, because the people on the stage performing were visibly enjoying themselves so goddamned much. Perhaps their performance wasn’t exactly true to the material they were performing, but it was heartwarmingly joyful. This encounter made me think about the concept of authenticity in arts and culture, which I think is vastly overrated.

Then, as I was browsing Wikipedia in my free time (does anyone else do that?) this definition caught my attention:

“Authenticity in art is the different ways in which a work of art or an artistic performance may be considered authentic.”

Wikipedia.
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Captain Marvel (2019)

Cast: Brie Larson, Jude Law, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Lashana Lynch.

Director: Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck.

Marvel finally had the common sense to make a female-oriented superhero movie. Sure, Marvel has main female heroines like Black Widow, Gamora, and the Wasp, but they’ve never been the focus of those movies. After the major success of Black Panther (dir. Ryan Coogler) it’s safe to say the audience is craving more representation. In this case a superhero movie featuring Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel. Captain Marvel has easily made its way onto my list of top 5 movies. Before we dive into the why’s and how’s let me tell you the general plot lines of Captain Marvel.

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Women’s March

I have identified as a feminist since I was sixteen, and although I feel passionate about the movement and its causes, I had never participated in any kind of demonstration before. One of my resolutions for this year was to change that, so this year, I joined the 2019 Women’s March in Amsterdam. Full of excitement, me, my friends and 15000 others gathered at Dam Square to make our voices be heard. Because I had never been to a demonstration like this before, it felt overwhelming to see the crowd, but in a very positive and empowering way. Everywhere I looked I could see amazing, handcrafted signs, with provoking and passionate slogans concerning female empowerment, dissolution of the gender binary and the thirst for universal rights. There was an incredible sense of spirit and solidarity in the air, funded by the thrill of the communal goal. The energy of the crowd was lifted even further by a few short speeches the organisers and a few selected activists gave before we started marching.

On a podium in the middle of the square, the host of the march, Enaam Ahmed Ali, introduced our first speaker, Adinda Veltrop. She started her speech off with some heartfelt words, expressing that she was grateful to all of us for turning up. Then, rallying up the crowds, she told us to cheer harder because “they can’t hear you in Den Haag.” She encouraged us by saying that if the politicians in Den Haag were not going to listen to us, we were going to fight back by creating our own stage. Then it was time for Julie, an ambassador from March For Our Lives. She gave us the message that everyone, no matter their age, race or sexuality, deserves to be heard. After two more speeches, one from a deaf woman and the other from a group representing queer and trans refugees, the short speeches were over. Enaam Ahmed Ali concluded the short introduction by saying: “Be respectful towards each other, be kind, be loving, no hate!”. After an energizing chant, we were off towards Museumplein.

I loved marching alongside like-minded people and reading the signs that they had made. A few of my favourite signs read: “Gender is a social construct,” “Stronger together” and “Male pill, where are you?” But the one that absolutely took the cake, read “We are not ovaryacting!” accompanied by an illustration of a uterus with an angry face. While we were marching, rain started pouring down and the wind wasn’t gentle either. Luckily this didn’t dampen the activists’ mood. Chants like “My body! My choice” and “Power to the people!” sounded through the streets. At first it felt a little awkward to chant along, but after a little getting used to, it was empowering to express this outward and unapologetic feminist mantra. When we arrived at Museumplein, another podium was set for seven more people to give a speech. People from all walks of life were represented in those talks. We heard from a young black woman about body agency, from a disabled woman on the inaccessibility of marches and from a muslim woman, who talked to us about the hypocrisy and racism of politicians wanting to ban headscarfs. People hung on to their every word and overloaded them with applause when they made statements that resonated with them deeply.

What stood out to me about the march was the incredibly inclusive and diverse nature of the event. There was of course a common goal uniting us, but the Women’s March showed that no single cause was superior to another. This was reflected in the speakers the organisers had invited. People of colour, people with disabilities and LBGTQ+ people were all given a podium. This was reflected in the different organisations that marched with us; there was an organisation vouching for more female art in museums, the union for sex work marched for more rights for sex workers in the Netherlands and there were many more. Lastly, it was reflected in the individuals such as myself, who decided it was important to show up to the demonstration and let our voices be heard.

One word was mentioned over and over: intersectionality. It was mentioned in the different signs people were holding up and in the various speeches that were held. In one of the speeches someone even went so far as to say that if it is not intersectional, it is not feminism. But what does that term mean? What is the difference between non-intersectional feminism and intersectional feminism? In their great book, Intersectionality, Collins and Bilge say that it “is a way of understanding and analyzing the complexity in the world, in people, and in human experience.” This complexity is influenced by factors such as class, race, sexuality, and gender, which in turn all influence each other. When applying this concept to feminism, it means that instead of only approaching problems through the framework of gender, we include other factors as well.

This acknowledgement of the different factors that influence power is incredibly important because it shows that no two experiences are the same. If feminism only focuses on the problems of white, heterosexual, cis and able-bodied women, other people who do not fit this description are being overshadowed and left out. The only way we can understand gender inequality is by examining how things like racism, homophobia and ableism influence it as well. The volunteers who organised the Women’s March 2019 understood this through and through. It is no coincidence that on their Facebook page they described 2019 as not just being about women, and that they said: “all oppression is connected.”


Resolution

“Death is not extinguishing the light; it is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.”

— Rabindranath Tagore

For Cooper.

1. UNION

In August 2006, my parents, my sister and I were sitting in the waiting room of an animal shelter. Soon a door opened and one of the workers was practically being dragged along by a small, white-furred dog whose breed will forever remain a mystery. We got up from our seats and the dog immediately started jumping and moving around us, taking in our scent while letting us stroke his head and his back. His name was Cooper and he became our trusty companion for years to come.

While my parents talked to the worker, my sister and I grabbed Cooper’s leash and took him outside. The bright sun warmed the earth on which we walked, and our new buddy’s tail was wagging back and forth, and there was a happy glimmer in his eyes. There was no resistance, no awkwardness, no fear. Our bond was forged organically and instantly, like it was meant to be.

Later, when we were driving back home, Cooper curled up beside me on the backseat of the car, and I knew then and there that I had made a friend for life.

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