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This is a personal project by @dellsystem. I built this to help me retain information from the books I'm reading.

Source code on GitHub (MIT license).

16

Contrary to common-sense understanding, the transformations of self-identity are not just a personal matter. Historical shifts out there provide the social conditions of existence of personal and psychic change in here. What mattered was how I positioned myself on the other side – or positioned myself to catch the other side: how I was, involuntarily, hailed by and interpellated into a broader social discourse. Only by discovering this did I begin to understand that what black identity involved was a social, political, historical and symbolic event, not just a personal, and certainly not simply a genetic, one.

—p.16 by Stuart Hall 2 years, 11 months ago

Contrary to common-sense understanding, the transformations of self-identity are not just a personal matter. Historical shifts out there provide the social conditions of existence of personal and psychic change in here. What mattered was how I positioned myself on the other side – or positioned myself to catch the other side: how I was, involuntarily, hailed by and interpellated into a broader social discourse. Only by discovering this did I begin to understand that what black identity involved was a social, political, historical and symbolic event, not just a personal, and certainly not simply a genetic, one.

—p.16 by Stuart Hall 2 years, 11 months ago
23

[...] the gay, Yoruba-born, artist-photographer Rotimi Fani-Kayode. Rotimi lived and practised most of his adult life outside Africa. He became one of the most significant figures in the explosion of black artistic creativity in the UK in the 1980s, and one of the first to break the silence by bringing male sexuality into the discourses of black representation. He always acknowledged his profound sense of sexual, geographical and familial displacement. His work is a way of both remembering and mourning the losses this represented: mourning his ancestors and their traditions, not by omitting them but by ‘masking’ them, thus giving them a new sensuous but perverse erotic charge. This was his way of honouring their symbolic power in his life and, at the same time, recognizing his own distance from them. In one of his constructed, masked works, as in Yoruba ritual, he sought to exorcize his ancestors by summoning them up but in another register. He always insisted that he was what he was because of, not in spite of, his lost selves. ‘My identity’, he said, ‘has been constructed from my own sense of otherness.’ Identity is never singular but is multiply constructed across intersecting and antagonistic discourses, practices and positions.

—p.23 by Stuart Hall 2 years, 11 months ago

[...] the gay, Yoruba-born, artist-photographer Rotimi Fani-Kayode. Rotimi lived and practised most of his adult life outside Africa. He became one of the most significant figures in the explosion of black artistic creativity in the UK in the 1980s, and one of the first to break the silence by bringing male sexuality into the discourses of black representation. He always acknowledged his profound sense of sexual, geographical and familial displacement. His work is a way of both remembering and mourning the losses this represented: mourning his ancestors and their traditions, not by omitting them but by ‘masking’ them, thus giving them a new sensuous but perverse erotic charge. This was his way of honouring their symbolic power in his life and, at the same time, recognizing his own distance from them. In one of his constructed, masked works, as in Yoruba ritual, he sought to exorcize his ancestors by summoning them up but in another register. He always insisted that he was what he was because of, not in spite of, his lost selves. ‘My identity’, he said, ‘has been constructed from my own sense of otherness.’ Identity is never singular but is multiply constructed across intersecting and antagonistic discourses, practices and positions.

—p.23 by Stuart Hall 2 years, 11 months ago
37

The unrest of the late 1930s was the outcome of profound crises which had accumulated over many decades. Economic dependency and the exploitation of labour had done their inexorable work. In the eighteenth century the Jamaican plantocracy reaped the economic rewards. ‘King Sugar’ reigned supreme. But after Abolition in the 1830s West Indian sugar was increasingly replaced by reliance on the cheaper sugar beet. The British government paid the planters compensation for the loss of ‘their’ property – that is, the enslaved: a bounty for their acceptance of the end of slavery. The planters looked elsewhere for more profitable investment. Jamaica became an economic backwater. The development of the US-owned banana industry did something to revive its fortunes, but left the majority of the working population untouched. By the Depression of the 1930s, the living standards of the masses had collapsed and unemployment was rife. These devastating consequences erupted politically, driven by intensified trade-union activity and by general, deep-seated social discontent – conditions which formed the historical background to the labour rebellions of 1938.

—p.37 by Stuart Hall 2 years, 11 months ago

The unrest of the late 1930s was the outcome of profound crises which had accumulated over many decades. Economic dependency and the exploitation of labour had done their inexorable work. In the eighteenth century the Jamaican plantocracy reaped the economic rewards. ‘King Sugar’ reigned supreme. But after Abolition in the 1830s West Indian sugar was increasingly replaced by reliance on the cheaper sugar beet. The British government paid the planters compensation for the loss of ‘their’ property – that is, the enslaved: a bounty for their acceptance of the end of slavery. The planters looked elsewhere for more profitable investment. Jamaica became an economic backwater. The development of the US-owned banana industry did something to revive its fortunes, but left the majority of the working population untouched. By the Depression of the 1930s, the living standards of the masses had collapsed and unemployment was rife. These devastating consequences erupted politically, driven by intensified trade-union activity and by general, deep-seated social discontent – conditions which formed the historical background to the labour rebellions of 1938.

—p.37 by Stuart Hall 2 years, 11 months ago
43

The emergence of this system of universal, mass politics coincided with my own growing up. I had inside me the sensibilities of the colonial order of things. But for my generation, following 1938, in no way could the colonial system represent our future. We could only perceive it as an unwanted impediment. Thus the events of 1938 were formative for my future intellectual and personal life. Much of the rest of my life in Jamaica was about struggling to erase and overcome the gap between my early childhood within the enclave of my family and the tumultuous world of Jamaican society and politics outside, from which the former was designed to insulate me. If 1938 symbolized the creation of modern Jamaican politics, I was of the generation which was born to inherit the new world the rebellions had inaugurated. This new political world marshalled the historical conditions in which the very idea of politics could enter my life, and enabled me and my generation to imagine a sovereign future.

Although I was much too young at the time to understand what was happening, I can see that I was formed by 1938: I came to be of that political generation. Generation is more than chronology. It’s symbolic rather than literal, relating as much to a shared experience, a common vision, or thinking within the same ‘problem space’ as it does to a mere date of birth.

—p.43 by Stuart Hall 2 years, 11 months ago

The emergence of this system of universal, mass politics coincided with my own growing up. I had inside me the sensibilities of the colonial order of things. But for my generation, following 1938, in no way could the colonial system represent our future. We could only perceive it as an unwanted impediment. Thus the events of 1938 were formative for my future intellectual and personal life. Much of the rest of my life in Jamaica was about struggling to erase and overcome the gap between my early childhood within the enclave of my family and the tumultuous world of Jamaican society and politics outside, from which the former was designed to insulate me. If 1938 symbolized the creation of modern Jamaican politics, I was of the generation which was born to inherit the new world the rebellions had inaugurated. This new political world marshalled the historical conditions in which the very idea of politics could enter my life, and enabled me and my generation to imagine a sovereign future.

Although I was much too young at the time to understand what was happening, I can see that I was formed by 1938: I came to be of that political generation. Generation is more than chronology. It’s symbolic rather than literal, relating as much to a shared experience, a common vision, or thinking within the same ‘problem space’ as it does to a mere date of birth.

—p.43 by Stuart Hall 2 years, 11 months ago
61

To evoke my mental world in this way is to follow history from its ‘bad’ side, as Brecht has it, focusing on the afflictions which were lodged in our inner lives. This is the story of colonial oppression. But while true, it misses an important dimension. Intellectually there were also virtues in our capacity to see the world askew, from below or backwards, or from below and backwards, free from the desire for domination which characterized the imperatives of the colonial order. This was to live W. E. B. DuBois’ ‘double consciousness’. We never could subscribe to ‘the rational madness’ (in Derek Walcott’s words) which conceived of progress as a programmed sequence leading us to ‘a dominated future’. Walcott believed such an idea to be ‘the bitter secret of the apple’. We grew up knowing the contingencies, the out-of-placeness, of history. For us history was the carrier of no absolutes and conformed to no overarching scriptural commandments. Nothing was ever codified as having its correct place and time. In a suitably paradoxical formulation, displacement moved to the centre of things. To think in this manner enabled us to catch the world in all its unpredictabilities. Out of our subaltern position there emerged the possibility of engaging with history anew. That colonialism, despite itself, bequeathed to us this way of seeing indicates that within what I’ve identified as the ‘bad’ dynamic of history, contrary and liberating forces were also generated. As the Lévi-Straussian in me later came to realize, the Caribbean has been – for me, personally speaking – good to think with. My understanding of the world was creolized from the start.

goddamn i just love the way he writes

—p.61 by Stuart Hall 2 years, 11 months ago

To evoke my mental world in this way is to follow history from its ‘bad’ side, as Brecht has it, focusing on the afflictions which were lodged in our inner lives. This is the story of colonial oppression. But while true, it misses an important dimension. Intellectually there were also virtues in our capacity to see the world askew, from below or backwards, or from below and backwards, free from the desire for domination which characterized the imperatives of the colonial order. This was to live W. E. B. DuBois’ ‘double consciousness’. We never could subscribe to ‘the rational madness’ (in Derek Walcott’s words) which conceived of progress as a programmed sequence leading us to ‘a dominated future’. Walcott believed such an idea to be ‘the bitter secret of the apple’. We grew up knowing the contingencies, the out-of-placeness, of history. For us history was the carrier of no absolutes and conformed to no overarching scriptural commandments. Nothing was ever codified as having its correct place and time. In a suitably paradoxical formulation, displacement moved to the centre of things. To think in this manner enabled us to catch the world in all its unpredictabilities. Out of our subaltern position there emerged the possibility of engaging with history anew. That colonialism, despite itself, bequeathed to us this way of seeing indicates that within what I’ve identified as the ‘bad’ dynamic of history, contrary and liberating forces were also generated. As the Lévi-Straussian in me later came to realize, the Caribbean has been – for me, personally speaking – good to think with. My understanding of the world was creolized from the start.

goddamn i just love the way he writes

—p.61 by Stuart Hall 2 years, 11 months ago
68

For a while the planters tried, unsuccessfully, to maintain the workforce supply with convicts and war captives. But they also quickly succumbed to the murderous labour regime and to disease. When in 1713 the British broke the Dutch monopoly of the African slave trade as a result of the Treaty of Utrecht – which gave Britain the right to sell slaves to the Spanish colonies – they established a dominance in the Atlantic slave trade. This signalled the making of the Atlantic world, a powerful element in the constitution of what we call modernity.

By the end of the seventeenth century the planters, as an emergent social stratum, had developed an intricate mercantile system linking Jamaica and London, establishing significant leverage in political and financial circles in the English capital. Their influence was evident in the decision by the metropolitan government – after heavy pressure from the free-traders – to abolish the Royal African Company’s monopoly on the slave trade, colossally increasing the number of slaves bound for Jamaica. The Jamaican Assembly introduced a comprehensive slave code, based on the model of Barbados, such that the management of the slave population came to be a public matter, affecting the very lifeblood of the island. Sugar promised many quick fortunes to the planters, although the vulnerabilities of the crop, and the costs of the human means required for its production, spurred the creation of elaborate networks of credit. By the early eighteenth century the slaves outnumbered their masters by a factor of eight to one. When the European powers signed the Treaty of Utrecht, Britain’s plantations in Jamaica were well advanced, forming the indispensable core of the island’s economic and social structure.

—p.68 by Stuart Hall 2 years, 11 months ago

For a while the planters tried, unsuccessfully, to maintain the workforce supply with convicts and war captives. But they also quickly succumbed to the murderous labour regime and to disease. When in 1713 the British broke the Dutch monopoly of the African slave trade as a result of the Treaty of Utrecht – which gave Britain the right to sell slaves to the Spanish colonies – they established a dominance in the Atlantic slave trade. This signalled the making of the Atlantic world, a powerful element in the constitution of what we call modernity.

By the end of the seventeenth century the planters, as an emergent social stratum, had developed an intricate mercantile system linking Jamaica and London, establishing significant leverage in political and financial circles in the English capital. Their influence was evident in the decision by the metropolitan government – after heavy pressure from the free-traders – to abolish the Royal African Company’s monopoly on the slave trade, colossally increasing the number of slaves bound for Jamaica. The Jamaican Assembly introduced a comprehensive slave code, based on the model of Barbados, such that the management of the slave population came to be a public matter, affecting the very lifeblood of the island. Sugar promised many quick fortunes to the planters, although the vulnerabilities of the crop, and the costs of the human means required for its production, spurred the creation of elaborate networks of credit. By the early eighteenth century the slaves outnumbered their masters by a factor of eight to one. When the European powers signed the Treaty of Utrecht, Britain’s plantations in Jamaica were well advanced, forming the indispensable core of the island’s economic and social structure.

—p.68 by Stuart Hall 2 years, 11 months ago
76

I shifted from thinking of theory as the search for the certainty of all-embracing totalities (which is how a generation of us originally encountered Marxism), to the necessity of recognizing the power of contingency in all historical processes and explanations (which is how we went on to understand it). Or, in other words, of recognizing that the dynamics of displacement underwrite all social relations.

—p.76 by Stuart Hall 2 years, 11 months ago

I shifted from thinking of theory as the search for the certainty of all-embracing totalities (which is how a generation of us originally encountered Marxism), to the necessity of recognizing the power of contingency in all historical processes and explanations (which is how we went on to understand it). Or, in other words, of recognizing that the dynamics of displacement underwrite all social relations.

—p.76 by Stuart Hall 2 years, 11 months ago
91

[...] Unlike the racialized segregation in the slave states of the Deep South or in apartheid South Africa, racial difference in the Caribbean was not legally entrenched. Voting criteria were based not on race but on property. Race formed part of an informal system and a source of tacit social knowledge. Informal systems of meaning leave a good deal of room for ambiguity and negotiation. However, it mustn’t be assumed that because of this informality, infractions of the social rules had no social or psychic penalties. The situation in the Caribbean, though clear-cut and vindicated by common sense, was in practice fraught with exceptions, slippages and misreadings. The discursive negotiations which these slippages set in play were the stuff of the social transactions of everyday colonial life, animating anything from hushed opprobrium to full-volume public commentary.

—p.91 by Stuart Hall 2 years, 11 months ago

[...] Unlike the racialized segregation in the slave states of the Deep South or in apartheid South Africa, racial difference in the Caribbean was not legally entrenched. Voting criteria were based not on race but on property. Race formed part of an informal system and a source of tacit social knowledge. Informal systems of meaning leave a good deal of room for ambiguity and negotiation. However, it mustn’t be assumed that because of this informality, infractions of the social rules had no social or psychic penalties. The situation in the Caribbean, though clear-cut and vindicated by common sense, was in practice fraught with exceptions, slippages and misreadings. The discursive negotiations which these slippages set in play were the stuff of the social transactions of everyday colonial life, animating anything from hushed opprobrium to full-volume public commentary.

—p.91 by Stuart Hall 2 years, 11 months ago
205

At the same time I learned that my chances were not high of being a first-rate scholar of English literature with a potential Oxbridge academic future, remote as that had always been. It’s not that I wished for this, or that it was something I was planning or wanted. Not because I wasn’t clever enough or hadn’t read enough – which may or may not have been true – but because such a vocation seemed to depend on an innate, unreflective belongingness, knowing the social grammar of the place; an ability to feel instinctively the pulse of the culture behind a text, to inhabit what, years later, Raymond Williams called in his characteristically oxymoronic phrase its ‘structure of feeling’. Most of my English peers seemed to share something of this deep structure of affiliation, irrespective of their different class and regional backgrounds. I had read – and loved – Jane Austen too. But I couldn’t seem to get hold of what intricate resonances ‘Bath’ or ‘the parsonage’ stirred in the English imaginary. I found it difficult to call on, let alone to claim, an insider’s attentiveness to the subtle nuances of feeling and attitude which played across the text. My fellow students seemed to have unconsciously internalized what I would have self-consciously to learn.

By my unfamiliarity with the lived experience which informed the text, I don’t mean, literally, being unfamiliar with its location, geography or history. Rather, it meant that I was excluded from sharing a habitus – a way of life, forms of customary behaviour, a structure of common sense, taken-for-granted assumptions, affective identifications and presuppositions about the society, and how things work, below the conscious or purely cognitive level. These things were embedded as much in the minutiae of daily life, in facial expression or in body language, in what was left unsaid, as they were in what was spoken. They were evidence of the tacit knowledges which underpin cultural practices, the shared codes of meaning which those who belong unconsciously bring to bear to make sense of the world. This is what enables a culture’s members to ‘know’ and at the same time ‘not to know’ the unwritten cultural rules as to what can and can’t be said, what is and isn’t reasonable or appropriate to say or do, when and where things can and can’t be done. ‘Being English’ had everything to do with this deep structure of national cultural identity, an ‘imagined community’, in Benedict Anderson’s phrase; based not only on a set of institutions, but on a ‘lived imaginary relation to its real conditions of existence’, as Althusser has it: a fantasy of the nation, as well a gift of the gods, a state of grace.

—p.205 by Stuart Hall 2 years, 11 months ago

At the same time I learned that my chances were not high of being a first-rate scholar of English literature with a potential Oxbridge academic future, remote as that had always been. It’s not that I wished for this, or that it was something I was planning or wanted. Not because I wasn’t clever enough or hadn’t read enough – which may or may not have been true – but because such a vocation seemed to depend on an innate, unreflective belongingness, knowing the social grammar of the place; an ability to feel instinctively the pulse of the culture behind a text, to inhabit what, years later, Raymond Williams called in his characteristically oxymoronic phrase its ‘structure of feeling’. Most of my English peers seemed to share something of this deep structure of affiliation, irrespective of their different class and regional backgrounds. I had read – and loved – Jane Austen too. But I couldn’t seem to get hold of what intricate resonances ‘Bath’ or ‘the parsonage’ stirred in the English imaginary. I found it difficult to call on, let alone to claim, an insider’s attentiveness to the subtle nuances of feeling and attitude which played across the text. My fellow students seemed to have unconsciously internalized what I would have self-consciously to learn.

By my unfamiliarity with the lived experience which informed the text, I don’t mean, literally, being unfamiliar with its location, geography or history. Rather, it meant that I was excluded from sharing a habitus – a way of life, forms of customary behaviour, a structure of common sense, taken-for-granted assumptions, affective identifications and presuppositions about the society, and how things work, below the conscious or purely cognitive level. These things were embedded as much in the minutiae of daily life, in facial expression or in body language, in what was left unsaid, as they were in what was spoken. They were evidence of the tacit knowledges which underpin cultural practices, the shared codes of meaning which those who belong unconsciously bring to bear to make sense of the world. This is what enables a culture’s members to ‘know’ and at the same time ‘not to know’ the unwritten cultural rules as to what can and can’t be said, what is and isn’t reasonable or appropriate to say or do, when and where things can and can’t be done. ‘Being English’ had everything to do with this deep structure of national cultural identity, an ‘imagined community’, in Benedict Anderson’s phrase; based not only on a set of institutions, but on a ‘lived imaginary relation to its real conditions of existence’, as Althusser has it: a fantasy of the nation, as well a gift of the gods, a state of grace.

—p.205 by Stuart Hall 2 years, 11 months ago
217

‘How can you be interested in Henry James?’ Edward Thompson – the historian E. P. Thompson – once admonished me, with exasperation. ‘Ah!’ I thought to myself. But what about his sensitivity to the little deceptions and evasions of the English which one finds in his works, and the complex dialectic he weaves between innocence and experience, for which America and Europe came to be rich and interchangeable signifers? In The Portrait of a Lady he was alive to the tragic depths which accompany such things. He was brilliantly perceptive about how the fine sentiment and the exquisite good taste of his characters mask a crude, vulgar and venal self-interest. He intuitively grasped the moral vacuum at the centre of worldly wealth and aesthetic sophistication, the corruption secreted at the heart of a refined class self-confident in its own ethical superiority. He had an instinct for the fact that individual moral choice is always also cultural and social, and vice versa. He brought to bear on his unpromising material profound insights into the finely tuned distinctions between American and European versions of civilization.

—p.217 by Stuart Hall 2 years, 11 months ago

‘How can you be interested in Henry James?’ Edward Thompson – the historian E. P. Thompson – once admonished me, with exasperation. ‘Ah!’ I thought to myself. But what about his sensitivity to the little deceptions and evasions of the English which one finds in his works, and the complex dialectic he weaves between innocence and experience, for which America and Europe came to be rich and interchangeable signifers? In The Portrait of a Lady he was alive to the tragic depths which accompany such things. He was brilliantly perceptive about how the fine sentiment and the exquisite good taste of his characters mask a crude, vulgar and venal self-interest. He intuitively grasped the moral vacuum at the centre of worldly wealth and aesthetic sophistication, the corruption secreted at the heart of a refined class self-confident in its own ethical superiority. He had an instinct for the fact that individual moral choice is always also cultural and social, and vice versa. He brought to bear on his unpromising material profound insights into the finely tuned distinctions between American and European versions of civilization.

—p.217 by Stuart Hall 2 years, 11 months ago