Kanthan Pillay #1: Apotheosis of Speedos

Edward G. Nilges, “Kanthan Pillay Emergent from the Indian Ocean”, pencil, pen, and Gimp modification, 24 Nov 2010. A4 size.

Incipit (thus starts) a separate painting to be finished after Peter’s Crazy Aunt. The problem here is to show a nonwhite body in strong light and shade.

The speedo is just a trivial men’s swimsuit which in my experience is good for workouts where you run and swim, because it can be covered by running shorts, but there is an entire pseudo-hip, recreational moral panic around the stupid thing, which re-legitimates feelings that in South Africa used to be the basis of apartheid, where big dude here, who loves to swim, and who is Indian, was not allowed access to the goddamn Indian ocean. Whence this painting which is meant to celebrate big dude’s ability in a struggle in which big dude may have risked his life to swim the goddamn Indian ocean.

That is (das ist) even in a post-racist age people still have a need to assert group membership by way of asserting the minimal qualification for membership in situations where they feel otherwise inadequate. This is “at least I’m not so Clueless as to …” where here the ellipsis may be replaced by “wear Speedos”.

Pseudo-hip, recreational moral panics re-emerge as “cool” which is basically the new form of what used to be Eric Fromm’s “character armor”.

Kanthan Pillay is a CEO, award-winning journalist, writer, software expert and holy terror in South Africa. He and I helped Princeton University eradicate the first ever computer virus (the Morris virus) in 1987.


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