Mapping Media Scholars in the Art of Journalism

blackcocteau

Kofi Forson is a writer, poet and playwright living in NYC. His current blog is Black Cocteau, a mixture of philosophy and art on modern culture. His previously written articles include “Artistry and Celebrity: An Interview with Harry Goaz” among many others for White Hot Magazine.  Dr Samita Nandy’s (Centre for Media and Celebrity Studies) latest interview with Kofi Forson sheds light on his inspirations and advice for artistic and scholarly treatments of cultural figures and artifacts in popular culture. Read his insightful words below.

Samita Nandy: You blend cinematic art, poetry, and philosophy in ways that are rarely found in tabloid journalism. Why is it significant for you?

Kofi Forson: Primarily that is what drives me, hunger for art and intellect.

My video/film Cushion Pill premiered at curator Jo Derbyshire’s loft space in Liverpool back in 2005. It was originally staged as a theatrical play at The Riant Theater, NYC. The film was a production between me and model and actress Carolyn Day.kofiandaimee

Given the interview process I was interviewed for two films, Noah Becker and Steven Lane’s New York is Now and The Secret History of Contemporary Art.

Along with artist Daiva Gauryte, I participated in the Liverpool cultural initiative Transvoyeur’s video/film project, Gender, Space, Art and architecture.

Poetry and philosophy have been the basis for my dialogue and involvement with Transvoyeur and has resulted in projects both online and in art galleries, primarily Eickholt Gallery and Media Noche, NYC.

The relevance of tabloid journalism is that I’ve always felt being a pop star was the original idea, from my early experiences watching Michael Jackson, Leif Garrett, Shaun Cassidy and Donny Osmond.

The intervention I do now on commercialism with respect to art and journalism is to express intellectualism as thinker, “cultural worker” and curator of dialogue between me and the celebrity through the interview format which is a manifestation of my ability to ingratiate the celebrity into familiarizing themselves with me, bringing about justified and favorable answers.

Samita Nandy: Do you think it is important for scholars to become critics in the media?

Kofi Forson: I definitely think so. I remember my first introduction to Roland Barthes. I read his book S/Z in a humanities class at the School of Visual Arts. It changed my life and to this day I draw on my experiences of having read books by Barthes.

The key here is language. The scholar bases his or her language on theory and philosophy and importantly research. Knowing how to cultivate use of language for merit of communicating makes the scholar overwhelmingly pertinent to how information is acquired, how it is expressed and importance with which it is articulated, showing responsibility and respect given relationship between news source and worldwide public.

Samita Nandy: Would you recommend scholars to use interview in their creative and media work? If so, why?

Kofi Forson: The interview is singularly the most important way of acquiring information
from a subject, be it on the spot in a harried atmosphere and conducted in a hurried circumstance. This is relevant to the beat reporter at a scene of a crime or even in war scenarios. There’s also the planned interview between journalist and subject. And what has become the everyday talk show where a celebrity host interviews an invited celebrity as guest.

kodarkglassespropicThe circumstance of an interview is a remark on love and respect. Love as in human love, accepting another person as they are given race, gender and identity. The result then is an overvaluing of a need to get information. When both parties; the interviewer and subject accept their roles, the interviewer is at an advantage to use what he or she values as the best way to get answers from the source. It takes on parameters of psychology, emotiveness and cunningness.

The scholar’s purpose therefore would suggest getting information and sharing it. Interviewing someone as a whole is a productive way of showing interconnectivity between two people, the very thing a scholar is known for.

Samita Nandy: How can scholars approach the media so that journalists can implement research further?

Kofi Forson: The basis for research is to add credibility to how information is acquired and how it is revealed. Best way for scholars to approach the media so that journalists implement research further is through the book format or conducting seminars. The act of writing and publishing a book is singularly the most revered and important thing expected of any writer.

The advantage the scholar has is an ability to express how information is acquired. This can be achieved by publications as in a journal or book.

Furthermore the scholar can articulate thought on the importance of research through coordinated classes or conventions. The journalist has a lot to gain from the scholar.

By making use of modern technology and social media, the scholar can interject a system by which the journalist can achieve a more admirable way of sharing information.

Dr Samita Nandy
Director, Centre for Media and Celebrity Studies (CMCS) & Co-Producer, Celebrity Chat
Author, Fame in Hollywood North. Toronto: WaterHill Publishing
PhD Curtin University, Australia (Media / Celebrity)

MA and BA York University, Canada (Communication)

URL: www.samitanandy.com | Twitter @famecritic

The Wizard Within (Gold Edition) by Albert Thor

Book Review
Title: The Wizard Within (Gold Edition)
Author: Albert Thor
Publisher: Soul Purpose
Re-released: 2008
Pages: 318
ISBN 10 – 0969587309
ISBN 13 – 978-0969587309
Stars: 4.5

Jay Wiles should be ecstatic, but he’s not. A 33-year-old advertising executive, who quit his M.B.A. program two months shy of graduating because he felt his mind could not process any more learning, lives with his bank manager wife of 9 years, Liz, in a state that can only be described to most people as “the Good Life.” Jay and Liz have already paid off the mortgage on their lovely home with an in-ground pool and they talk about having a baby, next year…possibly.

Jay has been having profoundly strange dreams of late, in which a wizard, dressed much like Merlin might have, inhabits his dreams and encourages him to ask himself why he is not ecstatic and what he has to do in order to slay the Serpentine Dragon that haunts his nightmares. The wizard continues to make guest appearances in Jay’s dreams and upon waking, leaves him in a confused and vulnerable state; questioning everything about the life he’s made for himself.

Why has sex with his wife lost most of its spontaneity and passion?

“All of my life something has bugged me about this world – nothing I’ve ever put my finger on but something that comes and goes like a cool pocket of air that causes me to stop and shiver. I mean just look around you, Liz, surely you must feel it, too…There’s something wrong with the government, with religion, with education, with our economy, with the very basis of our lives and yet I can’t put my finger on what it is exactly. It’s like there’s something evil about this world that we can’t ever escape…So we’re left fighting even our own sexual urges. And if you think about it the ultimate question is this: Why are we terrified of being who and what we really are, why are we so divided from our natural selves?”

And so begins the journey of enlightenment of Jay Wiles. And it just might be driving him stark raving mad.

In the meantime, we follow Gail, a 45-year-old therapist for Individual and Family Counseling Inc. and her most recent client, Vanesa, who is proving to be nothing like the person Gail initially thought she was. Vanesa is a tall, handsome woman with short, black hair who dresses conservatively and is an executive for her company. She makes important decisions and tells people what to do every day. However, she’s been having an incredibly intense, life-changing affair with a mystery married man who is taking her to the outer limits of everything she ever knew about herself and is changing her in overwhelming ways. Her mystery lover writes the most remarkable poems for her that she shares with Gail in therapy, as they both try to make some sense of where he’s coming from and what he’s all about.

“As long as people believe the lie that wisdom is outside of themselves and is acquired, they are forever lost…”

There are no chapters in The Wizard Within but at the beginning of each new section there is a thought-provoking and often profound introductory paragraph in bold and italics that challenges the reader to think.

“As long as we mistakenly externalize the source of the experience of wonderment we will always give false credit to things outside of ourselves like a person, place, object or activity. Once we have been removed from ourselves we move further and further from ourselves: we look for ourselves outside of ourselves.”

Jay Wiles undergoes the quintessential spiritual transformation in The Wizard Within against the background of training for running his first marathon, the 79th City Marathon, and while many of those around him think he’s lost his mind and should be contained within the walls of a psych ward, Jay is convinced that he’s discovered the Ultimate Truth of the Universe – “I am you and you are me because we are the Eternal me∞, the experiential part of the Universe which is Immortal.” We are all connected. We are God because God is within us. We cannot search for a higher meaning to life through a god outside of ourselves, all we have to do is be willing to take the risk of going deep within (into the belly of the Serpent) and realize that there is no fear, no anxiety, no risk in pure acceptance.

Jay is left in charge of Mindbenders ad agency while his boss Ted goes on a two month adventurous kayaking vacation in Peru. This is Jay’s chance to start changing the world with his new found wisdom and truth. He now knows that “Consumerism is the symbolic equivalent of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein as our own fallible creation becomes the agent of our own untimely death.”

As synchronicity would have it, this philosophical thriller The Wizard Within (which was originally written in 1992) has at its core a very similar message as James Cameron’s current movie masterpiece, Avatar. Every single living thing on this planet is connected and if we realize this there is no need or room for life with fear, anxiety or hatred. Having faith in a Higher Power will ultimately save us from total annihilation and that Higher Power is within each and every one of us.

Albert Thor lives what he writes about and he may be a genius, or he might just be crazy. You will have to decide for yourself through reading his work. “Thor considers himself a ‘rational mystic’ in as much as he used his scientifically created tools to launch his Awareness into the mystical realm which blew the doors of his perception wide open, revealing the fundamental wisdom driving the entire Universal show.”

A lot of what he has written in this highly entertaining and often humour-filled book resonates with me, but it’s an intellectually and spiritually challenging novel that will make you think until your head aches. I haven’t quite decided whether Thor has managed to find a way to live in an ego-less state or whether he has the biggest ego in the Universe. This book was recommended to me by my cousin, Susan, who sells it at her book and gift store for the body, mind and spirit, The Purple Door, in Kingston, Ontario.

Thor, who survived a brain hemorrhage in November 2007, has a website at www.soulpurposepublishing.com and there states that “SoulPurpose Publishing is dedicated to contributing to the next evolution in human Awareness and to inspiring a new literature of hope from the perspective of Albert Thor’s brainchild, Reaction Manageme∞nt.” The Foundation for the Reaction Manageme∞nt System™ is developed across these three startling books: Flight Manual For The Soul (1997), The Wizard Within (1992), The Emotional Fitness Revolution (to be released in April 2010), as well as upcoming titles including The Good Shepherd.