Zadie Smith on Deana Lawson’s Kingdom of Restored Glory | The New Yorker

…”Examining Deana Lawson’s “Sharon” (2007), a black viewer may find the confusion of her earliest days reënacted. Before you’d heard of slavery and colonialism, of capitalism and subjection, of islands and mainlands, of cities and ghettos, when all you had to orient yourself was what was visually available to you; that is, what was in front of your eyes. And what a strange sight confronts the black child! The world seems upside down and back to front. For your own eyes tell you that your people, like all people, are marvellous. That they are—like all human beings—beautiful, creative, godlike. Yet, as a child, you couldn’t find many of your gods on the television or in books; they were rarely rendered in oil, encountered on the cinema screen or in the pages of your children’s Bible. Sometimes, in old reruns, you might spot people painted up, supposedly to look like your gods—with their skin blackened and their lips huge and red—but the wise black child pushed such toxic, secondary images to the back of her mind. Instead, she placed her trust in reality. But here, too, she found her gods walking the neighborhood unnoticed and unworshipped. Many of them appeared to occupy lowly positions on a ladder whose existence she was only just beginning to discern. There were, for example, many low-wage gods behind the counters at the fast-food joints, and mostly gods seemed to shine shoes and clean floors, and too many menial tasks altogether appeared to fall only to them. Passing the newsstand, she might receive her first discomforting glimpse of the fact that the jail cells were disproportionately filled with gods, while in the corridors of power they rarely set a foot. Only every now and then did something make sense: a god was recognized. There’s little Michael Jackson and grand Toni Morrison, and, look, that’s James Baldwin growing old in France, and beautiful Carl Lewis, faster than Hermes himself. The kinds of gods so great even the blind can see them. But back at street level? Too many gods barely getting by, or crowded into substandard schools and crumbling high-rise towers, or harassed by police intent on clearing Olympus of every deity we have. And, for a long, innocent moment, everything about this arrangement will seem surreal to the black child, distorted, like a message that has somehow been garbled in the delivery. Then language arrives, and with language history, and with history the Fall. …”

 

via Zadie Smith on Deana Lawson’s Kingdom of Restored Glory | The New Yorker

Reserved for the Gods: Only Two Humans Have Tasted the Chinese Peaches of Immortality | Ancient Origins

Qing dynasty porcelain with Xiwangmu“…Although the Peaches of Immortality were normally reserved for the gods, some humans are said to have been given the Peaches of Immortality by the goddess herself. As a matter of fact, according to ancient Chinese historians, only two mortals have ever tasted the Peaches of Immortality….”

 

via Reserved for the Gods: Only Two Humans Have Tasted the Chinese Peaches of Immortality | Ancient Origins