Maria Alyokhina Examined by Doctors as a Result of Hunger Strike

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Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina, who began a hunger strike to protest her banishment from her own parole hearing, has been examined by doctors.  Alyokhina was denied parole on May 23 and has been treated for low blood pressure.

Read more at Radio Free Europe.

I was asked to give a talk to some undergraduates about what inspires me before the University closed here.  I talked about Pussy Riot, this is what I said:
The plight of Pussy Riot and musicians in Mali hit close to home because they are the result of what I see as, perhaps, the greatest threat to culture and, thus, to society:  fundamentalism.  While that word often conjures up images of creationists in the United States who think that Jesus walked with the dinosaurs or Islamic fundamentalists who maintain a strict code of conduct and dress for women, I am using it in a much broader sense, which is the fundamentalism of meaning, the ignorant and destructive tendency to read something (music, text, or other material) in only one way.  Fundamentalism as opposed to plurality of ideas.  Fundamentalism is control; plurality – the ambivalence of multiplicity.
            Slavoj Zizek, the post-Marxist thinker (and wonderful film critic, if you ever get a chance look at what he has to say about movies), remarked the following after Pussy Riot’s sentencing: “IDEAS MATTER.  [Pussy Riot] are conceptual artists in the noblest sense of the word:  artists who embody an Idea.  This is why they wear balaclavas:  masks of de-individualization, of liberating anonymity.  The message of their balaclavas is that it doesn’t matter which of them got arrested—they’re not individuals, they’re an idea.  And this is why they are such a threat:  it is easy to imprison individuals , but try to imprison an Idea!”  This message, IDEAS MATTER, should be put on every building of every university in the world, because it is one of the primary missions of any teacher and, I believe, the foundational goal for our students – to impart ideas and demonstrate how they matter. 


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