Laurika Nxumalo

Laurika Nxumalo

Laurika is freelance writer and columnist. She's also a designer and photographer

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Latest Articles

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The Prediction of the Future Through Art

In the 19th century, Oscar Wilde wrote in ‘The Decay of Lying’ that, "Life imitates art far more than art imitates life… results not merely from life’s imitative instinct, but from the fact that the self-conscious aim of life is to find expression, and that art offers it certain beautiful forms through which it may realize that energy." According to Wilde, what people find in life and nature is actually not there, but what people find is what artists have taught them to find through art. So, does life imitate art or does art imitate life? In light of these questions, is it possible for art to predict the future? Which artwork by which artist do you think predicted the future?

  • The writer can choose any artwork from any artist, from any era to analyze. For example, Amalia Ulman masterpiece, “Excellences & Perfections”, which was dubbed by art critics as the “first Instagram masterpiece” could be an artwork worth the analysis. – Laurika Nxumalo 1 week ago
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  • People tend to idealise life, paint a picture based on their consumption of art, even in mediums like film (especially romantic films). So many people build mannerisms, plan events, do activities, based on what they see in films, what they read in books... I don't think that art predicts the future, but rather it manifests conditions for people to build experiences very similar to what they see in art, because that's what they idealise and strive towards. Does NASA continue to fund space research because of science fiction films like '2001: A Space Odyssey'? Maybe, maybe not (and if they did we'd never know). Will the events in those films actually occur? Who knows—but if they do, you might bet the people reacting to them will have seen those circumstances in art they have consumed, and respond accordingly. – Patrick 6 days ago
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'Beauty and the Beast' - A Tale That Foretold The Life Of Today

‘Beauty and the Beast’ is a tale that is different from the popular fairy tales; it has a peculiar take on psychological, socio-historical, religious and feminist approaches. Unlike other well-known fairy tales that were written or told by an unknown storyteller, the tale of Beauty and the Beast is an original literary story written in a specific historical and political moment by a female writer, Madame Leprince De Beaumont who was also a governess.

The story of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ has been interpreted in different ways. Some claim that it is a love story that teaches us modesty and introduces the healing power of love. Others claim that it is a tale about female empowerment growing – the awakening of a woman and her psychological and sexual maturation. Some see abuse in a romanticized hostage situation – the Beast is seen as an egocentric sociopath who keeps Beauty as his hostage while she loses touch with reality and falls in love with him; an example of Stockholm syndrome. Oftentimes, ‘Beauty and the Beast’ is interpreted as a story about a conflict of genders and a fight for domination.

Like in all narratives involving love – any objectivity is lost; bad becomes good, ugly turns into beautiful, violence becomes tenderness and kindness, etc. ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and its motives appeals to modern society; it narrates our hidden wild side to us. Societal norms have civilized our wildness, but this suppressed wildness constantly finds a way of coming out in our social and intimate relationships. ‘Beauty and the Beast’ also speaks about ‘otherness’. How hard is it be different?

What does it mean to be a beast – is it something that one becomes while living or is one born with it? What is beauty? What is pure and what is dirty? What is pleasure and does it have more value in the society or should it be punishable?

Can beauty and wildness co-exist?

  • You are right Madame Leprince De Beaumont was the first (or, at very least, earliest) author of the story of Beauty and the Beast and it has spawned so many iterations since then. Each version contemplates a different aspect of the story, but I was always most interested in Angela Carter's "The Tiger's Bride". I think the general plot of Beauty and the Beast explores areas beyond the social binaries we have become accustomed to: purity versus perversion, beauty versus ugliness, pleasure versus continence, femininity versus masculinity, etc. To answer your question, I believe beauty and wildness are not entirely opposites and can co-exist. We could make the argument wildness is beautiful or beauty is to be unrestrained, but we can explore a bit further. Beauty and the Beast is timeless because these issues pervade society since civilized society was established, or perhaps even before then. I suspect we will continue to do so for the foreseeable future, but Beauty and the Beast allows us to explore these taboo experiences in such a way that we are safe to contemplate but left to continue participating in civilized society (hopefully with a new outlook). – iresendiz 1 week ago
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“Unsex me here” - Lady Macbeth as a Disruptive Force in Macbeth

In ‘Macbeth’, Shakespeare substantially emphasizes the male-female relationship and gender dynamics. Shakespeare shows the relationship between gender and power which can be related to the patriarchal discourse of early modern England. He portrays women as major determinants in men’s actions. Men are portrayed as strong willed and courageous, but a female character such as Lady Macbeth is also given a ruthless and power-hungry personality, which was, in that era, typically associated with masculinity. She is a strong character who is deeply ambitious; her role in ‘Macbeth’ becomes important because it further explains Shakespeare’s presentation of women characters. Lady Macbeth is associated with supernatural subversion as well as sexual temptation – the question is, how did she use her femininity to disrupt her environment and what does her character teach?

    Taken by gracejjohnson (PM) 3 weeks ago.
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    'The Second Sex' By Simone de Beuavoire: Woman As Other

    ‘The Second Sex’ ultimately serves as the most eloquent, sophisticated and detailed synopsis of the patriarchal society and how it oppresses women. As Simone illustrates it is the amalgamation of destiny, history and myth which create “bird cage of oppression”. The reasoning that this oppressive structure has been created is muddled; however, there are three major considerations as to why it has been created: 1) out of necessity, 2) for control, 3) as a means of transcendence.

    Control has been the epitome of the patriarchal society. Men have sought to dominate their environment and as part of that there exists women. Arguably women have been the greatest challenge to men’s goal of control. Women have stood in opposition to men even when they are bound by the institutions of men. It is because of this dichotomy between menn and women which have strengthened the resolve of menn and their pursuit of control. As history illustrates men have always sought to place women as the objects of their reality and through doing so men have thought that they could control women like they control the tools they create. However, this has not worked in the favor of men and the rise of feminism bears witness.

    • This is an interesting read, especially in relation to her fiction as well and the way she represents this. It would be good to also look at this in comparison to the other seminal texts, such as Greer's. – Sarai Mannolini-Winwood 2 months ago
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    • I would love to read further on this, but I have to wonder how this will address colonized males and masculinities? Will this article explore Patriarchy as it exists in the current world or will it seek to universalize the experiences with out respect to material conditions? Will it explore the constraints and enforcers of Patriarchy or will it pathologize "men". I think this will be quite interesting but how exactly do you define "men" under patriarchy? – Sunni Ago 2 months ago
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    • Gender terminology would need to be defined clearly, as well as the gendered context that Simone's book was arising from (re: what was the understanding of sex and gender in her time in comparison to now?) – alliegardenia 2 months ago
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    • I have read "Le Deuxième Sexe" de Simone de Beauvoir (be sure to check the spelling) in French when I was in High School. And, just like all teens, this did not talk to me at all. I had to read it again in graduate school in my critical theory class and it took a complete different meaning. I guess maturity helped ;-) Now, my helpful note on your excellent topic idea: how can we still make De Beauvoir applicable today? Let's look at the US politics today and apply directly the aspect of "male control" over the very hot and touchy topic of "abortion rights" or "healthcare access to/for women". Looking at what males are trying to (re)gain control over what women can do. Since this is an international forum, the article could even be richer by having international scholars contributing from their own country and examine the rights of women linked under male control (the list of countries that come to mind is too long). This is very promising and am looking forward to read the final product. Good luck with it. – luc992 1 month ago
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    • This may or may not be helpful but I was not introduced to Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex until I played Nier: Automata. I only bring this up to say that I suspect the majority of Beauvoir's work has permeated into much of our culture now because most of these issues still pervade our society today, though they might manifest differently now. In the game, your main protagonists face off against a boss machine called "Simone" or "Beauvoir" in the Japanese version. You learn she was once a small, stubby machine who was in love, borderline obsessed, with another machine lifeform named "Jean-Paul" after Jean-Paul Sartre. Simone was jealous of his other mistresses and began cannibalizing other machine lifeforms, using them to grow bigger and using their bodies as adornments for her own body. Her incessant search for beauty led to her tragic downfall. She associated her self-worth with an apathetic machine until she lost sight of herself completely and dies at the hands of the player. Although deeply exaggerated, her story becomes incredibly devasting for the player and perhaps somewhat relatable. The story is set tens of thousands of years into the future long past the extinction of humans, yet we still see androids and machines replicating human behaviors such as sexism, apathy, self-degradation, and toxic behaviors with love among others. While this may not be entirely applicable to Beauvoir's work, this could be one avenue to connect the pitfalls of the patriarchy to modern-day society. This game predicts that even long after we are gone, these issues might still persist after us. – iresendiz 1 week ago
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