junk culture & creative destruction: open or closed playground

Citizenship and delinquency. Is destruction creative? Our capitalist system, the system, or ideology of markets is based on the the idea of creative destruction. The implication is that juvenile delinquents, the innately violent and destructive may have the necessary attributes to succeed magnificently in our society if they can channel the primal aggression through normative channels where it can be monetized and commodified.

---NPR refers to Levitt as a "photographer's photographer---little known by the public, but revered by fellow photographers". She photographed New Your City street scenes, mostly in Spanish Harlem, in a time before television where the streets were full of life, from kids playing in the streets to adults sitting on the stoops to avoid the inside heat.--- Read More:http://joshutterbugmama.blogspot.com/2011/04/photographer-helen-levitt.html

What is the difference between a Lloyd Blankfein, the obvious example as epitomizing the crash and mortgage crisis- money as a weapon of mass destruction- and the violent child terrorizing the playground with his or her dysfunctionality or the narcissism and violence of Steve Jobs exalted to the pearly gates when he calls Foxconn and ideal factory with workers being poisoned, fires, people jumping to their deaths: is this the type of playground Jobs sees as ideal? Why is society always at the whim of the most violent and reactionary elements? How different is a Charles Manson and the psychopathic behavior that has embedded in our culture the idea that our economy and prosperity is based on money and not on labor? Its a triumph of nihilism that articulates itself in increasingly ingenious manner…

Margaret Bourke-White Read More:http://www.allposters.com/-sp/Russian-Children-Playing-the-Butterfly-Game-Posters_i3597693_.htm

Lady Allen of Hurtwood, a landscape architect, pacifist and children’s welfare advocate visited Emdrup right after the war and introduced it to the English public in her 1946 essay in the Picture post, as a solution to the wartime problem of Juvenile delinquency. Hurtwood ads to the Danish precedent the idea that these playgrounds would be built on bombed sites destroyed by the Blitz. In her proposal, the junk playground is made into a narrative for postwar reconstruction, as a healing process in which the physical and psychological damage of the war are to be playfully cured….

…Freud argued that the pleasure children derive from play is rooted in repeating a traumatic experience and mastering it, often by revenging on a substitute. Play, as catharsis, purges disruptive emotions and canalizes dangerous instincts. But the stakes of play are higher, since psychoanalysis established an analogy between individual aggression and collective, political violence, both rooted in a metaphysical conception of human nature as the eternal conflict between eros, the force of attraction, and the builder of cities, and the death drive, the force of destruction and disintegration. During the Second World War, the playground was conceptualized as one of the places where the conflict between civilization and barbarism, democracy and totalitarianism, was waged in miniature….Read More:http://threatnyouth.pbworks.com/f/Junk%20Playgrounds-Roy%20Kozlovsky.pdf

Henri Cartier-Bresson. Read More:http://prisonphotography.wordpress.com/2010/01/25/monday-convergence-alan-chin-henri-cartier-bresson/

The theory then, is that disordered play is anchored in conflicting and mutually antagonistic conceptions on delinquency and its implication for citizenship. There is a sense of disavowal here in which we condone the violence, yet subjugation, colonialism, patriarchy and the accumulation and hoarding of great wealth are violent acts and most of the economic system is based on predation and the cycle of consumerism on invidious comparisons based on perceived values of taste. A Baudelaire would argue that violence is not inherent to human nature and destruction is enacted as a self-fulfilling suppressed poetic act. Like Stockhausen calling the 9/11 tragedy art on a magnificent scale. Why does poetry need victims. Like calling a concentration camp an artist colony.

Fred Herzog. Fred Herzog‘s photos of Vancouver during the 1950′s and 1960′s not only changed the way we see our city’s past but revolutionized the art of street photography. His crisp colour photos of Vancouver’s neon days give us a glimpse at days gone by along bustling downtown streets. Read More:http://www.miss604.com/2011/10/celebrating-fred-herzog.html

the paper continues: …Paneth was given the task of managing a play centre for ‘slum’ children who were too unruly to be evacuated, for which she gave an account in Branch Street; a sociological study, published in 1944. Her method of providing children with painting material, but no instructions or rules of conduct, which worked in other shelters, failed at Branch Street. This group smashed the toys, furniture and windows, stole from the staff, and sexually assaulted the female volunteers. Paneth figured that their aggression was rooted in traumatic childhood experiences brought about by overcrowding, poverty and punitive childrearing techniques, and was then transferred to the play centre volunteers. She took
a ‘non-resistance line’ as a way of ‘winning’ the children over, by declining to take the position of their oppressors. Her staff was instructed to give them full license to work out their aggression until they become quote: ’sick of their own method’, and could ‘start life at the new place with rule and order’. This strategy that promotes anarchy rather than enforcing discipline is based on the work of another Austrian, August Aichhorn. Following Freud, he argued that aggression is unconsciously aimed to provoke punishment, which then justifies the hate one feels to his parents, and by extension, to society. The refusal to punish or condemn frustrates the delinquent’s expectations and destabilizes his relation to authority. Aichhorn allowed his subjects ‘to work out their aggression’ to the point of explosion:…Read More:http://threatnyouth.pbworks.com/f/Junk%20Playgrounds-Roy%20Kozlovsky.pdf

---Children seemed to prefer the informality of dirt and scraps to formal jungle gyms. Eventually parents and park designers realized that these non-traditional materials inspired creative, thoughtful play. The adults and children worked together to construct the kinds of play spaces the children wanted. The playgrounds they built were not just play spaces; they were fodder for studies by child psychologists. Proponents for Adventure Playgrounds claimed that the play environment they provided would help kids retain resilien

d positive world-views. --- Read More:http://www.thegypsypoet.co.uk/uk_play_history.html

…When this point came, the aggression changed its character. The outbreaks of rage against each other were no longer genuine, but were acted out for our benefit. Aichhorn builds on the make-believe quality of play, its self-reflexivity, to purge his subjects of their aggression through play. Paneth allowed violence to rage without imposing limits, but rather than achieving catharsis, her group destroyed the play centre, and her staff quite. This failure brought about a change in the Paneth’s outlook. Once she began to work with the children on their own turf, their behavior changed and their aggression diminished. This development led Paneth to propose a new kind of play centre, in which children are provided with a bombed site, damaged like themselves, where they could build their own house with salvaged building materials….Read More:http://threatnyouth.pbworks.com/f/Junk%20Playgrounds-Roy%20Kozlovsky.pdf

But Jobs was right when he looked at his “toys” and saw the difference – his closed eco-system- between structured, ordered patterns of play in a controlled environment contrasted with informal, apparently spontaneous play-Android open system- ; in both cases play as an antidote to delinquency. Jobs understood that in the common playground the equipment determines the activity, but in the free-for-all “junkier” world of Google, the equipment, hardware, is determined by the child.

and finally: …Paneth ends her proposal with the following statement: We should also remember that the horde which Hitler employed to carry out his first acts of aggression—murdering and torturing peaceful citizens—was recruited mainly from desperate Branch Street youths, and that to help the individual means helping Democracy as well. Paneth, as well as the wartime press which extensively reviewed her book, framed juvenile
delinquency in a wartime discourse on democratic citizenship that equates it with mental health.Read More:http://threatnyouth.pbworks.com/f/Junk%20Playgrounds-Roy%20Kozlovsky.pdf

The conclusion, one has to wonder ,is whether or not there could be something positive about nihilism, a form of messianic nihilism as advocated by Walter Benjamin that would stop dallying with isolated incidents and drop the big one once and for all.There could be an emancipatory and transgressive capacity for recycling discarded junk into new reappropriated meanings, but it remains junk and a personal synthesis of ideas and personal language is a slow moving and non collective process of moving society off its addictions that would not advance Benjamin’s socialist prescription beyond it being a personal intermediary between the individual and some larger spiritual realm.


…Lambert provides an account of a rough group which he had to expel from the playground, since they disrupted and demoralized the play of the younger children. He followed them home and observed their intense interest in a broken scooter they were not able to fix. Together they opened a scooter club, in which the lads salvaged and fixed discarded scooters, which became the centre-piece of the playground. However, once they got a license and launched the scooters, the activity died out. This points to the limits of the junk playground from the bureaucratic point of view: its activities are un-repeatable and impermanent, since each individual case is allowed to achieve its own unique form, and then dissipate. Read More:http://threatnyouth.pbworks.com/f/Junk%20Playgrounds-Roy%20Kozlovsky.pdf

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