The Affect of Landfills & Appropriating Movements

Brennan writes in The Transmission of Affect that beings can, in a way, absorb the feelings or emotions of the people around them and highlights the effects that a person’s affect can have on a person. From bodily to psychological changes, affect can alter one’s environment and the way they perceive other people’s actions and the way they react. In A Herstory of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement, one of the founders of the movement, Alicia Garza, discusses the mass appropriation of the movement she and her sisters created in a way that ended up undermining or pushing her story and that of Black people out of mainstream media to be replaced by movements that actually did not care about Black lives. As I do my research, I have to think about the communities I will be speaking about and/or for and how my presence will affect their lives.

“Fantasy, in psychoanalytic thinking, is a mental activity that allows us to alter an unpleasant reality by making it into something more pleasurable.” Brennan continues by giving the example of a person waiting for “the good will” of the mother is the reality but thinking of it as in the mother is the one waiting for the person’s good will is turning that reality into a fantasy. Changing the narrative or the way you think about a thing, a place, or a person to turn it into something more “pleasurable” or acceptable is exactly what is happening at landfills that are being turned into parks. These landfills, a symbol of the negative effects of our capitalist consumer-driven society, makes people uncomfortable about the way we dispose and forget of material things. By creating this fantasy that landfills can be turned into parks where communities and families can come together to have soccer tournaments or picnics, people erase the consequences of their consumerist consumption. This is dangerous because, eventually, everyone is just going to be okay with creating landfills and then just building on top of landfills until our world is covered in trash and we have to live on top of debris that produces leachate and methane emissions. In the case of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, the once landfill/junkyard has been turned into a sort of amusement park. When you first walk into the park you see the giant globe with fountains around it reminiscent of the DisneyWorld entrance. Apart from that, there are tennis courts, a golf course, bike rentals, and refreshments carts. The only thing left to hint at its wasteful past is a small body of water where old, rusty pipes and trash has accumulated making the water a dark, mossy brown.

Another important aspect of this week’s reading is realizing our position in the environment we will be working in. As Garza writes in her piece, the demand or want to be more inclusive can lead to the exclusion or further oppression of marginalized groups and will continue to erase their stories. I need to make sure that, with my research, I am not displacing other movements for my benefit or the benefit of my research. 

Refreshment cart, right across from a youth soccer tournament (not pictured).

In conclusion, the way we perceive is deeply affected by the feelings of the people and environment around us. For my research, this means investigating the way that landfills turned into parks will affect our perception of consumerism in today’s society. I hope that by analyzing the way people feel or move in these parks, I will be able to bring into attention the unnaturalness of normalizing a world built on top of trash.  

Léonie Duarte

Sources:

Brennan, Theresa. “The Transmission of Affect.” 2004. 

Garza, Alicia. “A Herstory of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement by Alicia Garza.” The Feminist Wire, The Feminist Wire, 7 Oct. 2014, thefeministwire.com/2014/10/blacklivesmatter-2/.

~ by ld1821 on September 28, 2019.

7 Responses to “The Affect of Landfills & Appropriating Movements”

  1. Most Engaging: I love the way this ecology relates to Vibrant Matter, and the style of the photography has an ethereal aura, projecting the idea of “fantasies” and erasure.

  2. Shifting focus of a negative byproduct of consumerism into a positive affectual use of public space, written very well with a strong argument

  3. MOST INFORMATIVE – You use the readings from class very well, citing the resources and using appropriate quotations that expand onto the research you’re doing. You develop the idea very effectively, I especially like the quote “Fantasy…” that you used, it was well implemented and developed nicely. The pictures are very effective as well.

  4. *Most Affective: Shifting focus of a negative byproduct of consumerism into a positive affectual use of public space, written very well with a strong argument

  5. Learned the Most: I think you have done a great job at studying consumerism from the perspectives Brennan and Garza build up in their readings. Your post does a great job at applying Brennan’s idea of fantasy on nonhuman objects such as parks, and how this could be used in the capitalist world to trick us into normalizing objects such as landfills.

  6. Most Engaging! I think your use of images in particular makes this post very engaging. You’ve positioned your images such that they immediately attract the reader. Your representation of life in the park through the cart and the “Disneyworld (like) entrance” do a great job of reflecting the concerns of misappropriating movements that you raise in your post!

  7. Best Overall: I really liked how you were able not only to tell the story of the ecology you visited and applied the concepts from readings, but also took it a little bit further. Your point about a possibility that such parks might actually normalise garbage pits rather than prompting people to find greener ways of being was very interesting to me!

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