Wednesday, June 30, 2004
(12:39 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
A Thought Experiement
Imagine that both major political parties unilaterally dissolved, effective on inauguration day 2005, and every member of those parties retired from politics.
Out of the morass of third parties, I think we'd ultimately be choosing between Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan. I like those odds a whole lot better than what we have under the current dispensation. I mean, sure, Buchanan's a fascist, but he's not an imperialist fascist.
Tuesday, June 29, 2004
(11:34 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
On changing one's mind
If I hear or read one more person claiming that John Kerry's record of sometimes changing his mind is a major, worrisome character flaw, I am going to fucking scream.
I hate that he voted for the Iraq War; I think that he shouldn't have been so trusting of President Bush's "information." He got burned badly along with the rest of us, and he learned his lesson a little more quickly than his Democratic compatriots, since he voted against the blank check Bush asked for later. More information came in; Kerry changed his mind. How is that supposed to be bad?
This little meme is even more frustrating when it's used to paint Kerry as an unintelligent or thoughtless person.
I'd also like to add that when I was reading Chalmers Johnson's Blowback, a detailed manifesto on the destructive effects of US militarism, the names that most came up when he discussed people in Congress trying to curtail militarism were Nancy Pelosi and John Kerry. All the Bush propaganda about how Kerry voted to cut the military is mostly based in fact. I think that's wonderful.
(10:59 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Band Geeks of the World, Unite!
I just returned from the Drum Corps International show in Frankfort, Ill. I have turned down opportunities to go to DCI shows before, despite having been a pretty serious band geek myself in high school (symphonic band, marching band, jazz band, treasurer of the band...), and now I feel like a total jackass, because it was really great. There were a couple mediocre bands at the beginning, but once the big bands started coming out, it was a non-stop display of some amazing musicianship and athleticism -- playing to a pretty good-sized high school stadium that was completely packed out.
My personal favorite, and the obvious audience favorite, was the Bluecoats from Canton, Ohio, who had a very impressive color guard and a fun show overall. On a technical level, their drill wasn't as challenging as the Madison Scouts or the Cavaliers, but I just didn't feel right about those two because they were all-male groups; there was something anachronistic and maybe a little sad about that in my mind. This is not to say that they weren't very impressive in their own way. The Scouts performed a brilliantly executed "whole band in one big line" move, or what I like to call the "balls out" move, and the Cavaliers' drill and music were both incredibly complex and well-executed. There was just an enthusiasm in the Bluecoats' performance that was missing in the other two "name" bands.
I highly recommend that everyone attend the next DCI show in their area. They do occasionally show them on PBS, but a TV broadcast does not even begin to do justice to seeing it live.
(3:41 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
My Many Remarkable Accomplishments: Taking Stock
This summer, I have done the following work related to academia:
- Begun to learn French.
- Substantially rewritten and expanded my paper on Empire and submitted it for publication to the Chicago Theological Seminary Register.
- Submitted my Bonhoeffer paper to the Journal of the American Academy of Religion; they sent me an e-mail saying that they have a two-year backlog of papers to publish and wouldn't be able to get to mine until March 2006, assuming they accepted it; I withdrew my submission.
- Submitted my Bonhoeffer paper to Theology Today.
- Read the following books: Thomas Frank, One Market Under God; Jacob Taubes, The Political Theology of Paul; Slavoj Žižek, Organs without Bodies; Michael Bérubé, The Employment of English; Alenka Zupančič, The Shortest Shadow (forthcoming, projected completion date: July 5, 2004).
- Write a paper on Derrida and the love of ruins (due: September 2004 at the latest).
- Read an anthology of Wesley's sermons and a variety of secondary works on Wesley.
- Read Badiou's Ethics and other works (perhaps even some in French).
- Write a paper on Wesley and Badiou for the Wesleyan Theological Society -- and if you steal my idea, I will fucking kill you. I put my paper ideas out here on my blog because I trust you people, but if you steal my idea, I will fucking kill you.
- Read an article and a book on theological language and "biblical concepts" to enhance my paper on Moltmann's critique of Barth, then submit said paper to some journal or other.
- Read as much of Milbank's oeuvre as possible as part of my thesis research.
Here ends my public stock-taking.
Monday, June 28, 2004
(11:25 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
No revolt against any discipline, no critique of the academic institution could have silenced what in me will always resemble some last will, the last language of the last word of the last will: speak in good French, in pure French, even at the moment of challenging in a million ways everything that is allied to it, and sometimes everything that inhabits it. -- Jacques Derrida, Monolingualism of the Other: Or, The Prosthesis of Origin
I do not inhabit the French language. I am taking a class in how to read it, and though I have a lot of things in my life that take up all my time, I give the rest to French, to which I would give all. I have been preparing, circuitously, to learn to read French since roughly 1995, when I first entered Spanish class. All those little tricks and exceptions to the rules that seemed to cause such stress to high schoolers (who honestly don't feel completely comfortable until there is a written policy on when it is permissible to use the bathroom) -- I thought they were fine. Sometimes I thought they were charming. I could always tell where those de habla Español were coming from, and I think I can even tell where the French are coming from sometimes.
I do all my work, without exception. I do what the teacher tells me to do, because I trust her implicitly. She knows how to teach people to read French. I do not. She knows the necessary level of detail. It is not necessary to ask nit-picky questions. We are not trying to impress David Tracy here, people. We're just picking up some grammar and maybe a little vocab. That's why I haven't put the time I should have into my previous efforts to learn languages other than Spanish -- the necessary lack of "deep thinking," the need to turn that part of one's brain off and allow arbitrary rules to sink as much as possible into the unconscious, through simple mechanical repetition.
I am too proud to do that tedious work on my own, to give up on all my precious and deep thoughts (especially those on why I don't think "depth" is an appropriate category or metaphor for thoughts). I need to have paid someone money. I am starting to understand why it is necessary for psychoanalysis to cost money, unfair as it may seem. The work of analysis is the work of the analysand, but it requires the catalyst of the subject-supposed-to-know. I cannot think of a way to replace the role of money if the subject-supposed-to-know is to be generated -- how else to get the analysand into a position in which she is objectively entitled to the knowledge the analyst is supposed to have? Sacrifice -- understand how much I hate that word at this historical moment -- is necessary.
I translated "La Petit Chaperon Rouge" last night; before long, I will be reading Proust. Although "officially" learning French is a CV maneuver, I do not believe that I will ever have a tenured university position. Everyone tells me that it is imperative that I get a PhD, and I'll probably even blow some money on applications to programs that issue in that degree -- they make you pay to apply, an ungodly amount -- but I am ultimately taking this French class now so that I can have fifty or sixty years to read French. I will read Proust. I will read Baudelaire. I may even read Derrida.
Can you imagine? Some kid off the street, whose father drives a truck for a living, with no roots in this country extending beyond the 20th century, with no money, can take a class to learn something useless like that. That same father is able to start his own band and make recordings, after years of playing guitar in the basement during stolen moments. That kid's mother was able to go to college after he had already started -- and he started, he went to college, for free -- and she has now met all the requirements to be a teacher, except student teaching. She's going to India soon, just because she can.
How does that happen? Partly, it happens because we're oppressing the Third World, etc., but there have been plenty of world powers who treated their citizens like shit. It happens in large part because of good governance, because of conscious decisions to build a society in which good things can happen. The dishonest wealth of the United States is a necessary but not sufficient condition for the existence of, say, the federal student loan program, just as the existence of a federal surplus back around 1800 was a necessary but not sufficient condition for the existence of the land-grant universities.
I'll admit that I have a narrow view in this regard, but when I think of a society that is worth living in, I think of education. It should be rigorous, thorough, and universally available. No matter what the needs of capital may be this decade, I think that the world would be better if everyone had a rigorous liberal-arts education -- if people sat and read Baudelaire, for example, instead of watching TV. I know that there are some who will say that I'm emphasizing the wrong things, but seriously: are food, shelter, and medical attention even a question if we're building the ideal society? Do we really have to sit and think about whether freedom from disease and chronic pain is a right or a privilege? No, absolutely not -- it's a right. I'm ashamed that our constitution does not contain provisions guaranteeing the right to adequate food, shelter, and medical attention to everyone within our borders. But while we're amending the constitution, let's add in the best possible education, because just like with the welfare state, all of it could go away.
At this point, free universal public education through the secondary level seems like an unquestionable thing, but it really is a choice that could be undone. We didn't think that torture would ever be a legitimate topic of national debate, but now it is -- and so who's to say that vouchers will never turn out to have been a segue into a privatization of the nation's education system? Who's to say that our society, in which higher education was widely democratized in a relatively short period of time, can't be reshaped into a society in which education is irrevocably linked to class?
This is why it's important to vote. Maybe we'll never get that referendum on "Should the United States continue to be a brutal hegemon?" but even our degenerate and unsatisfactory form of representative government allows us to make some decisions -- or at least express our disapproval of past decisions -- on what kind of society we want to have. It's important to contribute to making those decisions. It's important not to say "it's all the same," because it's not all the same, and the differences, small though they may seem, can make a huge impact on someone's life. There are schools, public health programs, welfare offices, etc., etc., etc., that help people every day and that are trying to run on a shoestring because George W. Bush is in office. For example. I know there's not a simple one-to-one correspondance between your one vote and the results of the election, but still. It's worth a shot, because school administrators should probably be spending their time on things other than thinking of a scheme to save money by unscrewing every third light bulb.
(2:16 AM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
The Left is still a prisoner to lack: Or We must do something in these dark times.I'd be lying if I said that Fahrenheit 9/11 didn't effect me in a very profound way. The suffering we see and the idiocy behind the suffering has kept me up at night, been prone to small crying fits and a general lack of energy. I am in despair. I know that the system is fucked up and refuses to work for a healthy society, I know that John Kerry is going to bomb people and I know that the problem is bigger than George W. Bush. Everything I think can happen to end this suffering is too damn hard and I can now see that this despair is another way my desire to be led is fighting my desire to be free. I also can see that my desire is pretty damn effective as I am blind to see anything that I can do.
I know voting is pointless, I'm going to do it anyway. I know Michael Moore has money, I'm going to support him anyway. I know that the Church has given up on its message to the oppressed, I am going to mass anyway. I know that everything I do will be small and insignificant and easily counteracted by the axiomatic of the socius and I am going to do it anyway. Maybe if we pretend, if we have the imagination for it, that we are free to love something new can happen.
No more talk of what we are not going to do, ie. "I won't vote." I don't care what you aren't going to do and either do the dead. We are going to start thinking of anything, no matter how fucking stupid, we can do. This thread is open. I also think we need to start eating dinner together, pretending we have something of a community despite our difference. I hope we can start having house meetings and encourage each other in doing something, even if it has no point and even if we are alone.
Do not think that one has to be sad in order to be militant, even though the thing one is fighting is abominable. It is the connection of desire to reality (and not its retreat into the forms of representation) that possesses revolutionary force. - Michel Foucault, "Preface to Anti-Oedipus."
Sunday, June 27, 2004
(10:59 PM) | Robb Schuneman:
PlankeyeListen: I don't take invoking the name of Christian rock groups lightly. But sometimes such things must happen, in order to set the tone for what is to follow. However, this post is not regarding Christian Rock, or the down fall of Tooth and Nail Records. This post, so flippantly titled, is about the poor.
Recently the poor have been a favorite topic of conversation at the print shop. I should preface by saying that probably 20 of the 25 people who work at the print shop are church-going Christians. I should also say that 24 of the 25 people who work there are staunch Conservatives. Also - 25 of the 25 who work there are great people who I get along with extremely well. Now that we have our ratios straight, I'll continue.
This is what is said of the poor -
- they are lazy
- they make up stuff for their signs just trying to see what works
- they are lying
- they will only spend the money on alcohol
- if they truly wanted to get out of poverty there's a Mcdonald's down the street that would easily hire them.
And so forth.
And I think all that is fine..so long as you don't try to equate such thoughts with Christianity, or any other similar religion or mindset that teaches to help the poor, feed the sick, so on.
I say this because the kingdom of heaven, from the teachings of Christ, seems to be a way of viewing the world, a way of interacting with the world. Thus, in following the example of Jesus, we take part in the kingdom of heaven. And one thing that seems true about the kingdom that Jesus is preaching about is a certain lack of concern for results or success. It's the action itself which allows us to take part in this kingdom, not the final end of those actions.
Did Christ really expect the woman caught in adultery to sin no more? What's more, if she does sin, does that mean the action Christ took to save her life was meaningless and stupid? A waste of time?
What about the prostitutes and tax collectors he ate dinner with? Could he only eat dinner with them expecting all of them to give up their lifelong profession and convert right there and become..I don't know..rabbis. Cause, I'm pretty sure most of them didn't. Most of those prostitutes probably worked the same night after encountering God. Yet God continued to come and eat with them. And what's more, Christ seems to enjoy the act of love in eating with them, regardless of the results.
If you view it as a result-based incident, the dinners become almost patronizing. God taking time out of his busy schedule to try and convert some dirty sinners. But instead, we see Christ "reclining at the table", seemingly actually enjoying such meetings. No matter the end result, Christ is showing the kingdom of God in that action of fellowship, and that is something to enjoy.
So, to get back to the poor man who asks you for money, Christians seem to take the opposite approach from Christ. We help people when we think there's a legit chance they'll "come to Christ" as a result, or when we buy whatever con they're telling. When they can convince us they aren't going to spend the money on alcohol, maybe then we'll help them. But this is basing everything off results. Rather than taking that opportunity to acknowledge the humanity of the con man before you, and knowingly be conned - in other words, an opportunity to take part in the example of Christ, to interact with the Kingdom of God - we keep our change pocketed, try to look away, and figure that my 2 bucks wasn't going to help him at all anyway. We're so focused on whether we suceed or not in changing that person's life that we refuse to change our own by constantly embracing the spirit.
So what can be said about this person who denies the poor?
- If we truly wanted to follow Christ's example, we'd stop pointing to places down the street as help, and begin by acknowledging that we're dealing with a human being, and offer what help we can at the moment.
- We're only going to spend that money we kept on alcohol or pop, or at best, a movie rental.
- We're so obviously lying by looking away - as if that homeless person is really going to think we don't see them.
- We make up rationale all throughout our head until we find a reason that works, and then we drive on past. If we can't think of anything, we'll keep coming up with stuff till the light turns green and we can move on.
- Basically, we're lazy.
Don't get me wrong, I think more substantive ways of helping the poor are needed than just throwing money at them. But until we come to a place where we can embrace the kingdom of god without thought of the end result, no help of any sort is going to come. If you can't even embrace the singular humanity when it's right in front of you, how are you going to embrace the whole miserable, sad song of poverty world wide? If we don't practice the kingdom of heaven in small, easy, instances, how will we ever work to bring it's justice on a wider scale?
In short, if we don't remove the plank of laziness from our own eye, how are we ever going to remove the speck of laziness from the impoverished who actually have some good excuse for it?
Sorry for all non-Christian readers of the site. However, I think the point still stands for any who'd consider alleviating the suffering of the poor a good thing.
And in the end, I'm a hypocrite, but I'm trying to be less of one.
(4:16 AM) | Adam R:
Long Live Chairman Maoor: Cunnilingus and the Discursive Performance of Class
What does the word "performance" mean in this title? Wouldn't a better title be "The Discursive Performance of Cunnilingus in Class?" Or what about, "My Recent Performance of Cunnilingus?"
. . .
I just looked up the word cunnilingus at m-w.com, and am embarrassed to learn what I almost wrote about. Whoa-ho-ho! Wait a minute! Vulva! I'm a better lover already!
Saturday, June 26, 2004
(11:18 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
CFP: A Festschrift in Honor of Chun the Unavoidable
The Weblog, a closely affiliated blog of the University Without Condition, hereby issues this Call for Posts in honor of the recently retired Chun the Unavoidable. Possible post topics include, but are by no means limited to, the following:
- Halitosis in Literature
- Cunnilinguis and the Discursive Performance of Class
- Richard Clarke
- The blogospheric reception of the verb "to chun"
In my opinion, this post by Ralph Luker, my
fourth third favorite blogger overall and my absolute favorite Methodist blogger, counts as the first contribution to the Festschrift. A strategically placed first comment at Crooked Timber should generate a veritable flood of interest -- as we all know, there is nothing more tempting while reading a comment section than to click on a commenter's own self-serving link to his own damn blog.
(10:58 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Over at The Reading Experience, Daniel Green follows up on Adam Robinson's anti-lit-crit screed. Dr. Green even commends Adam for stating his opinions well. In addition, m2 of The H is O takes Adam to task for being a gnostic.
Our second-newest contributor is certainly garnering a great deal of attention, and for that I congratulate him. I also note that The Reading Experience is, according to Technorati, slightly more popular than the Weblog, both in terms of the number of links and the number of sources -- and, in those terms, it will only grow more popular after I publish this post.
In other news, according to my Blogger profile, I have typed over 200,000 words in the humble Blogger window and have published nearly 500 posts. This total does not even include the inevitable "bloggered" posts or the posts in which I have simply linked to a longer piece stored in a separate file to save people some extraneous scrolling. I like to think that at least most of those words have been worth reading.
(9:40 AM) | Robb Schuneman:
Kerry is in-effable?Just for the record,
If I wasn't voting for Kerry before, I am now:
(2:29 AM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
The Eschaton has already occurred: Or, some thoughts about Fahrenheit 9/11Of course there are all the things one expects from a good Michael Moore movie, some ironic jokes, well thought out editing that does help the emotions along, a certain sense of determination and I can't talk about those because movies is not my specialization here at the Weblog.
I can talk about how I don't do well when I see violence, but you don't want to hear about me. They looked up on September 11th, the people that Moore wanted us to see instead of the buildings since these very same buildings have ceased to mean suffering he shows us suffering. They looked up in horror as their God died and when the papers from the two towers float to the ground one is reminded, if they take a second to think, that those papers hold banal information, information that someone worked on as bored as you are at your job. Those papers were holding that building up and they were created by bored people. Others looked up at them and it looked as if they had finally seen something truly horrible, it looked, also, like a praise and worship service.
The bombs then dropped on Iraq and I see another person looking up. An old woman, there were old women in New York City as well, who has just lost her house and five relatives. She is weeping, and old women wept in New York City as well, as she cries out that her only hope is in God. She doesn't understand why they were attacked, they were civilians and she doesn't understand where God is. "Where are you God?" she cries out at least twice after she calls on God to destroy our houses. You can't be angry with her, you can't blame her for calling on God to destroy us and there may even be a part of you that cries out for the same. We who have lived through the American church, we too wonder where God is and if God is, or bracketing that wonder what the thought of God causes our actions to be. Is it not [God] who has given Bush such resolve and which gave the terrorists such resolve and which gives many of those poor bastards who got tricked into thinking the United States Army would be a good place to spend a couple years solace? None of this can dry this women's tears and nothing well for we have robbed her of her home and her relatives through our tax dollars and our lack of actually overthrowing the government through peaceful means, whether that means voting or civil disobedience we have done none of it.
There is more of course but these scenes and the thoughts that came with them stand out at the moment. There are points during the movie where I felt like I felt when I was twelve years old and I was gripped by the spirit of desire. I was in a church service listening to the preacher scream, "Burn it down! Burn down the church if it brings more people in!" and I remember looking over at a kid named John who had made fun of me relentlessly because, admittedly, I was pretty fucking annoying. I suddenly began to ball as the altars were open and people, like sheep, began to flock to them. I began to ball as the second verse was song and I told my mother that I knew that John didn't mean it and that he was really a nice guy. The grief I felt at that moment came from nowhere and the desire to love through that grief followed. There were parts in this movie where I wished I could let my desire go so I could revert to that innocent child again.
Friday, June 25, 2004
(5:20 PM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
You didn't have a drug problem back then.I was sitting in Shirley Lingo's office staring at some Thomas Kincade painting waiting for my new boss to come and show me the ropes of this new job. But that comes later. First I was sitting in Shirley Lingo's office, I stared at her name plate. It sat on her desk, it was a boring desk with a fake wood top which matched the name plate. I didn't notice that until now though, first I thought about her name. Her name was Shirley Lingo. Lingo is the word that we use to talk about words that we use in unmixed company, for instance in the pornography industry one would use the terminology double pentetration for a scene involving two men fucking one woman. Shirely we don't use Lingo at work.
Thomas Kincade's painting was very beautiful or else surely Ms. Lingo wouldn't hang it in her office. Surely she looks at it everyday when, like that moment I was sitting waiting for my new boss, the phone rings ever thirty seconds. When she looks up at that painting, which hangs to her right and straight in front of me (at all times now), shes reminded that there are more than phone calls in this world; Yes! there are also cottages in beautiful woods where the light from some unknown God hits just right in the lilac trees. I didn't think that when I saw it, I just thought it would be funny if someone painted an ax-murdering walking up to the peaceful cottage. It would be funnier if he was skipping joyfully from rock to rock to cross the peaceful brooke that was placed every so beautiful by some unknown God.
I was staring at Thomas Kincade when Shirely surely got upset with the person on the phone. Shirley just looked up to the painting for solace.
What did it take to get me into that office on that day? I feel so fucking old. So damn old. That means I feel older than I used to feel. In Kindergarten I thought about the future; I was a very disturbed child. I thought about the future, age 15 to be exact and I thought, I do remember, that 15 was surely too old for me and that I would surely die long before I turned 15. Now I was 21 years old and looking at a picture of Thomas Kincade because I needed a job.
Time is being. Being is time. It's the same thing either way you read it but it plays at the limits of language. Shirely Lingo doesn't care about playing at the limits of language, she hasn't thought about her name since she was 12 years old and then she didn't realize that she would be answering phones all day and have a hip problem. Superiority through weakness. Even power is subject to power, time is all-timeful and we can't say it is all powerful because power is subject to time. Just as every Christian is the subject of the state and if they try to overthrow that state they are gnostics. I don't believe in gnosticism anymore, in fact I never did.
Time is being. Being is time. God is [...] fuck I don't know what that means.
I was sitting in Shirley Lingo's office staring at some Thomas Kincade painting waiting for God and I had to wonder what it is I was waiting for.
(8:36 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Friday Afternoon Confessional: Don't Blog Angry
I just have a couple sins to share:
- In last week's confessional, I told a couple young ladies to "go fuck [them]selves." Beyond the offensiveness of the remark itself, it was basically one of my standard passive-aggressive moves of complaining about people when they aren't there -- except that this time, turns out they were. If you're still reading, I apologize. I withdraw my request that you fuck yourselves.
- I consistently drive rather fast, due to my need to be in Chicago two to four days a week. This cuts into my gas mileage, causing me to purchase more gas and therefore further assist the forces of evil in the world.
Thursday, June 24, 2004
(10:12 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Heidegger avec Coltrane
I have a bad habit of listening to music in the background, and so I had already kind of listened to Wilco's A Ghost is Born thrice before reading Brey's review. After listening to it twice during my round-trip to Chicago tonight, I must admit that I have far fewer reservations about the album than Brey does. To begin, I only started listening to Wilco a month or so ago, and then I only listened to Summerteeth. The place of A Ghost is Born in the complete career arc of Wilco (which sounds suspiciously parallel to that of Radiohead, on an album-by-album basis, particularly if Kid A and Amnesiac are counted as one double album) is of no particular concern to me. The influences that they incorporate do not interest me in the slightest. What does interest me is that "I'm a Wheel" not only sounds like a Foo Fighters song, but that many of the chords he uses in the chorus sound like the kind my dad instinctively tends toward when he's improvising on the guitar. I think "Company in My Back" is beautiful. I think a lot of the songs are beautiful, and I think the darker songs are among them -- I relish dark music.
If I were to rearrange my music collection, it would be autobiographically. Right now I'm listening to John Coltrane's Giant Steps. One of the cuts off that album was on NPR when I took out the Wilco album in my car. If I were placing that, it would be in the part of my music collection where I had access to Mark Miller's vast jazz collection and went through it somewhat haphazardly. I had moved into our University Place apartment a couple weeks before the semester started due to some controversy at home, and during that time, I read so much -- so wonderful. I wish I could do that again. I read Being and Time that week. I read other things as well -- some Voeglin, even. I read Of Grammatology, hanging over the edge of the couch, perilously close to the door. And there was jazz going in the background. I had "my own apartment" for the first time, with that novelty of novelties: extra space. I tried to figure out where to put the book I was reading. I had music going all the time, civilized music that didn't come out of Seattle in the 1990s. Wonderful. John Coltrane is forever entwined with Martin Heidegger in my mind, in a way that an academic paper could never capture.
That was the year I finally decided to stop going home for breaks, my senior year. I had always delayed going home, at least ever since I met Kristin (who was a towny) -- trying to steal some time when I could have her all to myself -- and I did even see Kristin this particular break I'm thinking of. The main thing, though, was that I read White Noise and listened to Amnesiac a million times. Whenever I walked into my apartment after a meal or after going to visit a friend, Amnesiac was still going, on repeat. I was reading White Noise for my senior thesis, and thanks to that intense reading experience, it got a positive assessment, even though it objectively failed to meet my (somewhat embarrassing, in retrospect) criteria for a "good" novel.
I could dig a little further into that same year -- Coldplay and Risk, Tenacious D, listening to Muse on the way to visit Jen Hatton in D.C. (sadly, no background music accompanied Gavin's refusal of Mrs. Miller's lasagna: "I just don't eat lasagna. Could I have something else?"). I could recall how Eels' Daisies of the Galaxy and Beck's Mutations and Schoenberg's choral works together defined the first summer home from college, when I worked mowing lawns -- looking out the window of a house not my own, into a neighborhood with no trees, trying desparately to keep in contact with the two girls I had left behind through voluminous e-mail correspondance. Selmasongs defined the winter break before I went to Oxford; Dancer in the Dark helped assuage the awkwardness when I came home that summer and saw my high school girlfriend after such a long time. I had made a mix CD for her in high school, when music was even more intense an experience and when my opinions were even less well-founded -- and I've made mix CDs since, sometimes as a sign of love, sometimes not, and sometimes the ambiguity was in the individual copies of that CD, distributed widely so that it wouldn't be so conspicuous when it hit its intended target. Badly Drawn Boy represents to me my previous summer, when all my friends seemed to leave me every weekend -- it's happy, upbeat music, but I still feel vaguely upset when I listen to it, because it's not enough, it's not filling this hole I feel, or that I once felt and now feel again because of the music.
Muse's Absolution and Godspeed's ...like tiny fists... are my first semester at CTS, driving to Chicago twice a week. Smashing Pumpkins' Adore and Rachmaninoff's greatest hits are the summer before I went to Olivet, when my house was being emptied. And then there are the "mp3 songs" from when I had first discovered illegal music downloads but had not yet discovered Napster -- the few awkward songs that were available and that I listened to incessantly, "Personal Jesus," "Brown-Eyed Girl," "Mutherfucker," etc.
It's all too many memories that I can't share. Every track of every CD is just too much for me, but I love music too much to cut it out of my life -- so I play it in the background.
(11:29 AM) | Monica:
Shit and Garbage Post21 days, 16.5 hours of sleep, 43 beers, and my brain still hasn’t fallen off. It’s a stubborn sonbitch. Course, by now I’m seeing lightning streaks and making serious errors in judgment and execution (such as SPELLING ERRORS), but that intellect just will not get off. Yow-ow-wow! Get away! Off!
Its stranglehold is slackening but my brain’s hands would have to be sawed straight off its body before ‘twould ever set me loose. Oh, leave me to the bliss of romping the world gut-wise!
Farewell, all. Nowise know I where go I, but I’ll aback soon in coffee cups. This is work where I’m at. The world’s ______est secretary. I’m loving you all, so I know youreading me.
I found the answer to my fish question: Some do, some don’t.
Self-congratulations to my self, and kudos.
I spoke too soon. My boss just now called me into his office to announce to me my merit increase. It’s .5% above the university increase average, or the highest increase in our 80-person department. “You deserve every bit of it. You absolutely do,” boss said. Yikes! That’s it. No more blogging for this non-computer-owning luddite.
(4:20 AM) | Adam R:
The Value of Literary Criticism?In the words of a Chaza choir member, "I generally try to stay away from shit and garbage." That's why I read so many classics--with Conrad, Dostoyevsky (or even Beckett!) you know all along that you're not going to take a lot of crap. When you veer a little from the path, say to free, advance copies of Wild Animus or anything by Bret Easton Ellis, you're going to run into a few snags, a few books with torn pages and busted bindings.
The thing is, those latter books, the crappy ones that are nearly good, are the ones that I can sink my critical teeth into. The parts that you laugh at because they're so bad, that's where I can find a compelling essay. At the same time, I enjoy reading the worst of Michael Crichton novels (say Timeline) with nary an intelligent thought creeping through my head.
I often think fondly of the spring afternoon when I told a literature professor she was wasting my time trying to find something intelligent to say about Moby Dick. I told her to lower the Bakhtin, I said that the only way to meaningfully explain what's happening with the whiteness of the whale or old Queequeg is to go back and rewrite the whole damn book starting with "Call me Ishmael." When you mess around with all the intellectual hullabaloo, I said, "You're out to sea."
Zing! And here's the thing:
The thing is, I still agree with myself. Certainly it's my artist's temperament, but I have a hard time seeing the value in vivisecting Ulysses (aside from the Guiness you'd drink while doing it) to try and make a relevant point. Why hijack great literature for our paltry ends? Herr Kotsko's reading of "The Penal Colony" was a good read, an impressive understanding to boot, but what good does that do anyone? A fat lot of good, that's what good. It does anyone. A fat lot of it. Good, I mean.
I'm reading The Brothers K now. Constantly it astounds me; sections of it, particularly the sections written by young Irwin which read like Lester Bangs, are brilliantly executed. One part made me pause to write this post, but when thinking about what to say I remembered my position on literary theory. I've sort of declared a moratorium on murdering texts, so while I could write that the things Kincade is saying to his father work because of the reflections he's had earlier about Aesop being a moron, I feel much more strongly that you should read it for yourself. I could try to say something, but without rewriting the entire thing, I'd be saying nothing. It's like what Frost wanted to say to his neighbor when they were building that wall. He decided not to say anything because it wasn't "elves exactly, and it'd be better if [the neighbor] said it for himself."
That last sentence itself illustrates the ugly un-artfulness of misusing literature. Literature abuse.
Literary criticism stretches the distance between life and art to a near breaking point. Scratch that--it completely severs any connection between our life and the beauty we can find in it. It contrives terms and categories that are natural to our instincts but not to our existence. For instance, when we apply the force of love between Romeo and Juliet to our own lives, when we derive our definition from their relationship, we've made love into something concrete, definable, and weird. Now we feel funny about having a crush, and we hope no one makes fun of our emotions or plagues our houses behind our backs.
It's great when a smooth-talking catcher from the Durham Bulls says he believes "that the works of Susan Sontag are self-indulgent, over-rated crap," but it's even better when, moments later, he affirms the value of gentle kisses. Susan Sontag is cool inasmuch as knowing how to pronounce her name can muster you up some feminist pootie-tang, but baby, gentle kisses will work every time.
PS I'm fully aware of the paradox inherent in this post.
Wednesday, June 23, 2004
(9:13 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
To the comment threads!
Amardeep Singh is hosting a caption contest. So far, he has two contributions. I think that the Weblog's readers can help him out.
(9:00 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Two Points for Discussion
- When I tried to teach myself German last summer, it didn't work. I kept forgetting stuff and losing my momentum. Now that I'm taking the French reading class in Hyde Park, however, I am starting to understand my error: yes, of course I can "understand" the German language in an abstract way. The point, however, is to get beyond "understanding" the fine points of grammar, and the only way to do that is through stone cold rote repetition. I actually need to write out all these exercises, for instance. Rather than just writing everything on a big sheet and "looking it over" again and again, I need to memorize stuff, so that I can produce it rather than just convincing myself I'll probably recognize it if I see it. Hopefully once I get done with this French class, I'll pretty much know how to go about learning to read a language and can save myself some money next summer.
That's what I think we've lost in all our focus on innovative and engaging pedagogy: the early stages of learning are boring. If they're not boring, then you're probably not getting the underlying foundation that you need. It's all about rote conditioning. Repetitive exercises are boring. They feel like a punishment. They break the spirit of young people -- and thank God! Have you seen the way these fucking free-spirit, self-expressive, creative kids behave in public? In the doctor's office, for instance? I would say that my parents would have punished me severely for acting like that, but I can't even get to the point of imagining acting like that. Kids today need discipline and structure. They need to do a million pointless exercises that teach them how to use a comma properly. They need to do more rote memorization. They need to be forced to do something cold, impersonal, and pointless that will somehow get it through their skulls that the entire world does not stop when they want to say something or get a drink or whatever.
- While we're on the issue of cold impersonality, I think that the second most pressing need in American society, aside from economic justice, is a uniform code of etiquette. People are complete assholes. I know that "back then" people were still assholes underneath, but a code of etiquette at least keeps things moving smoothly. For instance, I don't care if someone is "sincerely" seething with anger at how long he's had to wait to see the doctor -- I don't want him to "sincerely" yell at the receptionist. Hypocritically keeping his cool would be fine with me.
In more general terms, I also wish that people would just acknowledge each other's presence more. I feel like everyone views everyone else as a potential obstacle -- it's most pronounced in big cities, when eye contact is never made. One good thing I picked up from Olivet, aside from holding doors open for people, is the tacit expectation that I would, at the very least, smile at someone as we passed on the sidewalk. I didn't know most of the people I smiled at or for whom I held open the door. I didn't "sincerely" want to brighten their day or some shit. But it's still nice to do. I still think it would be nice if it was more instinctual for people to say hello to others rather than avoid and resent others. (Maybe the phenomenon I'm diagnosing comes from being such a car-centric society, where the main mode of transportation isolates us and encourages us to view everyone else as an obstacle to our attainment of the highest possible speed.)
Tuesday, June 22, 2004
(11:38 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Back in Black
At long last, Cap'n Pete has rejoined the great cyber-circle jerk, and he's keeping up a pretty good pace, too.
(6:38 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
So what exactly happened to Howard Dean again?
He was a one-issue candidate -- all he could talk about was the Iraq war. He let out a creepy scream, which showed he was objectively unfit for the presidency. He could sometimes be an asshole in private. John Kerry just did a better job of grass-roots campaigning.
Yeah, whatever. I don't know if people realize this fully, but the official line of the Democratic Party is to support the Iraq War. They voted overwhelmingly in favor of the authorization to use force and for the $87 billion. (My only glimmer of hope is that John Kerry voted against the second.) So how exactly were they going to select the anti-war candidate? These are people who are trying to gain some "credibility" on national-security issues. I mean, forget the fact that Democrats are obviously more skilled in actually running the country and designing effective government programs -- no, we need to prove that we're tough guys, too. We need to prove that deep down, we really do believe that the government exists only to fight wars and brutalize criminals. That's credibility -- not creating an environment in which young people can live with hope for the future, outside the long-shot chance of cashing in on the stock market, but creating an environment in which as many young people as possible are killed.
The complaint against the Bush administration is that they did the Iraq war poorly. Period. The Democrats, however, will do it right -- they'll take the stupid idea and make it livable and plausible, just like Clinton did with Reaganism. The terms of debate are effectively beyond question: the Democratic party has apparently accepted the "fact" that people are naturally Republican and have resigned themselves to "swinging right" in order to make the occasional cynical grab for power.
Meanwhile, as all the tough-minded liberal hawks mouth the idiocies of the Bush administration's American messianism, people are dying for no reason at all. Saddam is out of power already. We have already achieved the only possible positive outcome of this war. Before us, there is only miserable failure. We can either have miserable failure right now and withdraw right now, or we can have miserable failure after this war has become a "generational event" -- another Vietnam. I am honestly afraid that John Kerry and the Democratic Party, in their capacity as the "fixer" of Republican messes, will choose the latter.
I want John Kerry to prove me wrong. I want him to give the American people an actual choice in this election by promising to withdraw our troops from Iraq. I want him to be relentless in exposing the lies of the administration. I want him to go negative at the most fundamental level -- to opt for evil, not incompetence. And I want the Democratic Party to prove me wrong. I liked how outspokenly critical Nancy Pelosi was of the president a while back, but I'd like to get past hatred of the man to hatred of his entire political philosophy. I fear that they won't be able to make that shift, however, because the real scandal here is how much the Democrats share with George W. Bush, whether sincerely or for cynical reasons.
Meanwhile, there remains an untapped resource of genuinely progressive people, or people who could be persuaded to be progressive if anyone gave them the option. By pretending this multitude does not exist, the Democratic Party shows contempt for the American people, tacitly "admitting" that our nation is made up of nothing but Christian fundamentalists and gun-toting rednecks.
To conclude: a thought experiment. George W. Bush is not really as hardnosed and uncompromisingly principled as he seems. Although the standard criticism of Democrats is that they flip-flop (and, if you've been watching TV for the last 15 years, you realize that this is true), Bush has flip-flopped on nearly every issue: nation-building, small government, etc. He has just decided that the appropriate strategy is to cultivate an air of infallibility by taking the position that anything he in fact does was his intention the whole time, despite evidence to the contrary. It's an effective strategy -- apparently it's brilliant in terms of fooling highly educated journalists. The thing is, the Administration is just willing to do anything to remain in power. They don't care about "finishing the job" or anything like that; just look at Afghanistan. And so, what if the best way to ensure that the doomed policy of war in Iraq is overturned is to keep Bush in office? The propaganda machine could declare victory, then on to the next thing -- like Afghanistan, Iraq could be forgotten (according to the "liberal" elites running the media, all those country yokels out in the heartland don't have the patience for international news anyway). Eventually we'd start talking about our massive success in Iraq the same way that we now unabashedly say that Al Gore lost the 2000 election.
But as I said, it's just a thought experiment. The official party line of The Weblog is still anti-Bush, or I mean, pro-Kerry.
Monday, June 21, 2004
(9:45 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
The Role of the Father in Contemporary Rock Music: Or, Freud Schmeud
I intended to write this post on Father's Day, but I was happily indisposed. (I will also have you know that unlike Jared, who only claimed he was going to do so while intoxicated, I arguably did go out and watch the summer solstice -- I was out driving during the sunrise and the sunset, thus effectively experiencing all the extra daylight that I would not otherwise have experienced.)
I want to know the role that the "father" plays in rock music lyrics. The approach to be used here will be basically Derridean -- pick a topic, then read everything you can think of that addresses that topic, then pick out the patterns. Easy. I plan to start with music with which I am most familiar in my investigation of the role of the father. I will amass a small amount of evidence off the top of my head, but I not only expect but demand that others contribute their own examples in the comments. I assume that most readers will be familiar with the songs in question and so will only provide the barest context. So here goes:
- "Talk about your family / Your sister's cursed / Your father's old and damned" -- Pavement, "Silence Kit"
- "Worse than your lyin' / Caught my dad cryin'" -- Pavement, "Rattled by the Rush"
- "Like father! / Stepfather!" -- Weezer, "Say It Ain't So"
- "Pack and get dressed / before your father hears us / before all hell breaks loose" -- Radiohead, "Exit Music (For a Film)" [research question: Does Radiohead directly mention a male parent anywhere else in their body of work? I'm thinking no.]
- "Tell me why, dad, / the beautiful ones are always crazy" -- Sparklehorse, "Someday I Will Treat You Good"
- A more extensive quote:
And your mom would stick a fork right into daddy's shoulder
And your dad would throw the garbage all across the floor
As we would lay and learn what each other's bodies were for
And your mom would sink until she was no longer speaking
And dad would dream of all the different ways to die
Each one a little more than he could dare to try -- Neutral Milk Hotel, "King of Carrot Flowers, pt. 1"
- I guess we can't avoid mentioning Pearl Jam, "Jeremy," even though it's a shitty song
- "Daddy, what'd you leave behind for me?" -- Pink Floyd, "Another Brick in the Wall, pt. 1" ["daddy" does not play any role in the rest of the album, nor in Pink Floyd's other work from what I can remember]
- "My old man told me one time / You never get wise, you only get older / And most things you never know why, / But that's fine" -- Dandy Warhols, "Big Indian"
That should be enough to help you see what kind of thing I'm looking for: first of all any mention of "father" or any synonym thereof, then maybe implicit references to fatherhood if we have time (as in "Fitter, Happier," where they mention a baby in the back seat). I'm already starting to notice some patterns, but I shouldn't trust my own limited sample, since maybe I'm unconsciously drawn to music that portrays fatherhood in a certain way.
One limitation of my musical experience that stands out is that I don't listen to female artists enough, so Robb should probably fill in that gap, since he's an expert in that field.
(2:16 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Why They Write Such Good Posts
à Gauche on interiority and related matters.
The Young Hegelian on Heidegger and Arendt.
Lars Iyer on freedom of speech.
If it wasn't official before, it is now: the blog format is thoroughly compatible with serious engagement with continental philosophy. I don't really want to revisit John Holbo's idea of "literary studies blogging," but it seems that the ever-growing circle of great philosophical blogs might help facilitate certain types of arguments and rhetorical approaches that have been neglected in the continental tradition. It is not entirely implausible that the blogosphere will one day give birth to a new Nietzsche, freed from the constraints of academic monographs and detailed commentaries on past philosophers and to the task of philosophy.
(11:59 AM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
The Proletariat and the Axiomatic of the Socius.There is a place in the machine for everyone, the one, true machine that all have a place within. There is only one class and you are part of it. There are only slaves and you are one of them. So am I. We have lost our masters, we need only look so far as the Bush administration to know that he is also a slave, that there is no person driving forth history along a preconceived path. Only slaves tinkering with the machine and the machine knows what it is doing. Time has given itself only to contingencies, some which are predictable and others which are not. There is one machine and there is no outside of that machine.
Some suggest that the poor are outside of the machine but the machine has found a place for them as well. The Capitalist machine always avoids limits, it has learned the Greek wisdom of homopathia quite well, and one such limit is that everyone would be equal, perhaps this an aporatic limit. The machine would be unbalanced if this limit were to be reached and as such the Capitalist market has worked, quite nicely, a 10% unemployment rate for which it bleeds when too much excess wealth is accumulated and this allows the machine to run smoothly.
I've found a riddle quite by chance in an old book purchased in a Salvation Army called English Riddles. It reads, "There stands a tree at our house-end. / It's a' clad owre wi' leather bend; / It'll fecht a bull it'll fecht a bear, / It'll fecht a thousand men t'weir." The answer to the riddle is simply 'war', the editor comments that "the description of war as a tree is perhaps a confused fragment of a riddle which is not preserved in any intelligible version." The tree is a machine; an oxygen machine, a paper machine, and war is a machine; a wealth-creating machine, a death machine, a value creating machine. The war machine stands at our house-end and no house law can save us from it, we breath it and read it and we buy it and we sell it. Everything good is paid for by the war machine, the State used its excess wealth to buy a few rights for a few souls and their life is better, oh so much better without the despot or the tyrant, but they still breath war and death for the sake of doing anything at all.
There is only one machine with little machines attached. This machine works to no end other than to work and it is moving towards a telos of destruction. Yet the Socius' axiomatic is that the machine works for the good of all (Of who? All? Which all?) and that is shared by nearly all, those that dissent are still within the machine. They even desire it, the machine is all they know. Dissent merely helps water the tree of liberty and thus the tree of war and thus the full machine. So where is the Proletariat to come from? The poor? I've seen them, they don't desire anything differently than what the other slaves desire, after all they have a purpose too. The intellectuals? They must create thoughts that have a market and breaking the machine doesn't sell. The social worker? I'm not sure the worker can think anymore with all the work to be done and the rest necessary for the next day of work to be done. We all know the religions don't work contrary to the machine anymore except, maybe, the ones we don't want to be a part of.
I know we are supposed to focus more on policy, focus on working with the machine to take down the machine but let's admit that none of us really believes the machine is going to stop without someone throwing themselves onto a cog. I know, I know, 'a little rationality please!' John Kerry can save us from Bush but who can save us from John Kerry? The reality of the situation is that we are heading towards disaster and the only option that seems viable among such a multitude without a care for the world is to give up.
We need something other than viable option, where are the Proles?
(11:25 AM) | Michael Schaefer:
Our Hero Loses His Mind, pt. 2For no real reason at all, on Thursday I went on a music-piracy bender far outstripping anything I've done before. Ten CD's burned in the space of two days, with more likely to come. Much of it wasn't especially noteworthy; some Radiohead stuff I hadn't purchased yet (and, in the case of Airbag, am unlikely to do so in the near future), Air's first album, the one Portishead CD I didn't own (I have an odd need to "complete the set" with any artist I find remotely interesting--this has proven ruinously expensive in the case of the Smashing Pumpkins), and some Japanese stuff I'll never find over here. What really got my attention, though, fuelling the little epiphany I'll describe in a moment, were Mogwai's "Young Team" and Sigur Ros' "Von" (which apparently isn't available outside of Iceland). Both of them have tracks that are absolutely fantastic--insanely loud, layered guitars, bizarre noises of all kinds, and vocals, if present at all, either mostly unintelligible or buried miles back in the mix (Mogwai, like Godspeed, also makes great use of weird spoken-word samples in lieu of vocals). On Saturday, as I was listening to the song "Hún Jörð" for about the third time in a row, I realized one of the things I find so appealing about this kind of music is the complete lack of lyrics. Mogwai really has none to speak of (on the album I was listening to, at least) and while I'm aware Sigur Ros does, I'm not convinced they're especially intelligible, even if I did speak Icelandic. And that's fine--it's clear to me now that the only way modern music is going to move forward is by dispensing with lyrics entirely.
Now, I'm in no way suggesting that vocals need to go; I like vocals--the human voice is a fine instrument. But I have serious doubts about lyrics--I'm pretty certain they do more harm than good. How many times over the years has a great song been brought down by insipid lyrics? Consider every Smashing Pumpkins song that could do without whatever a cappella rant Billy Corgan decided to throw in there. Consider, well, every song Nine Inch Nails has ever written. I -love- their instrumental stuff; meanwhile, despite turning 40 recently, Trent Reznor's still writing lyrics in the same loneliness/alienation/emptiness vein he's been in for years. This weekend I listened to Muse for the first time--they're an excellent group. But can you really do anything but roll your eyes at a lyric like "everything about you is innate happiness"? I think this partially explains my fascination with Japanese music. Gackt and Malice Mizer both write lyrics, to be sure, and i have a sneaking suspicion they're terrible (lots of stuff about love, tears, murmurs, and oh, yeah, vampires) but my very elementary Japanese allows me to mostly ignore this. And when they do write in English, the pronounciation tends to be poor enough that I have no clue what they're saying there, either.
Of course this whole argument is slightly ridiculous, and I'm aware decent lyrics are still being written--Radiohead's, certainly, tend to be great. But given their last 3 albums, coupled with Thom Yorke's questionable mental state, I think they could still decide to do away with, you know, words, at any time. (Just a few years ago, Adam made the suggestion that they could soon switch over to machine-based vocals delivered in 9th-century Danish--I'm game). So yeah, it's clearly time for a general moratorium on lyric-writing. We can check back in, say, three years to see how the landscape has changed--I'm sure there'll be plenty of worthwhile stuff in the pipeline by then. Until then, nothing but instrumentals, random samples, and unintelligible processed vocals, preferably delivered in foreign languages (I'd suggest Finnish or Basque).
It's a reasonable proposal, I think, one that I figure will be fully implemented by August or so. Meanwhile, I plan on tracking down all the unlistenable noise-rock I can find (any suggestions are welcome). Or maybe the Cocteau Twins--I hear you can't understand a word that girl's saying.
Expect another, equally serious post in the future on why things like melodies, recognizable instruments, and albums divided into actual songs are likewise passe.
(2:28 AM) | Robb Schuneman:
I'm A Lazy BumSo I'm just going to repost this which I originally sent to Olivet's Academy list serve. It's my response to an article posted by the empyreal Katie Morris which consisted of this latest weblog posting from Rabbi Arthur Waskow which was mainly concerned with how to deal with the torture of Iraqi prisoners. You should read it..it is excellent.
?My long and tawdry response
PS - did I do this right? "This", being the whole link to the long post thing?
Sunday, June 20, 2004
(11:06 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Spritzer on Ice in New York City
Linked please find the text of an essay written for public performance but never delivered, under the title: "Spritzer on Ice in New York City: or, There and Back Again." The title was chosen, not to indicate the content of the essay, but as a humorous tribute to two people I believed would be in the audience. Only one of them was actually at the event where I failed to deliver this paper. In short, very little went according to plan with regard to this essay. This is where you come in.
For those who can't read a book without first studying the back of the book, my essay is about the relationship between the symbolic order and subjectivity. It comes to conclusions that are generally Hegelian. Toward the end, I indulge in a little name dropping, then do a little Christian stuff, concluding with a reference to the parable that has appeared in many of my latest works.
Saturday, June 19, 2004
(2:48 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Re: Chris's Post at The H is O
Okay, I get that fundamentalists are bad and that an analogy between leftists and fundamentalists proves that leftists are bad, too. I'm with you there, 100%. But the solution to over-reliance on theory is to read Plato? How does basing one's politics on the musings of a philosopher who's been dead for well over two millenia represent an improvement over basing one's politics on the book of Revelation or on Lacan (who, whatever his faults, had the advantage of actually living through much of the century whose history is determinative for our present moment)? And it's weird, because I thought I detected some name-dropping of Rorty, and I suspect there are other theory/philosophy types who helped our intrepid author come to his conclusions.
I'll also note that while he's great at describing the problem of the leftist/fundamentalist on a theoretical level, he doesn't really offer any solution other than shifting from dispensationalism/postmodernism to Platonism, which indicates to me that he believes, with leftists, that a change in theory will result in a more effective politics and that theory is somehow generally efficacious in the real world. So why not go all the way and point out the analogy among fundamentalism, leftism, and his own (implicit) position? Then he could come right out and state the question-begging argument that is implicit in his entire post: that the important difference among the three is that his position is good and that you can tell because it's presently dominant.
Friday, June 18, 2004
(5:23 AM) | Robb Schuneman:
Unicorns Are People TooGoodness gracious, how long has it been since I've written a non-music oriented post? Well, besides that Iowa one where I won a lot of money. I remember a time when I had some seemingly new thoughts, or some new experiences, something worth sharing that was a lot more interesting than the cds I happened to listen to in a week. Maybe instead of listening to my cds in the car, I need to start yelling random combinations of swear words at cars passing by, and then blogging about the reactions I get. That might at least bring some diversity.
Anyway, this post is going to revolve around music. Mainly because I saw The Unicorns last night, and it was one of the stranger shows I've seen. My thoughts started out with a resounding "Man..I'm never going to shows anymore, all these are high school kids, and I don't even have Buddy Holly glasses to wear to try and fit in..and this club is so disorganized..how are they gonna open doors an hour later than posted!" to "Oh..wow..the doors are open and this is just the line for tickets that I've stood in for 40 minutes and missed the opening band..I'm a moron."
After that, I finally got in for the last song of the opening band, who were some locals called The Ice Walters. They were decent, but certainly not worth the awkwardness of going to a concert alone. And it was then that I began thinking the only time I'd go to concerts from then on was if my friends here who always back out on doing ANYTHING at ANYTIME will finally give in and come.
But then Canada saved the day. The thing about going to a concert that differs from a CD is mainly that it's probably the best introduction to a band you could ever get. I think it best to go to concerts of bands you've heard are good based totally off reccomendations of others. Maybe download a song if you have to..but if possible, try to just get enough info to know it's not a total waste of time. You're sure to be let down more than your share of times, but the times it pays off are worth everything.
That was the case with the Canadaian bands on the bill, The Arcade Fire and The Unicorns. Yeah, I know, I thought all "the" bands had to be from Detroit or New York as well. I totally wore my denim jacket and everything.
The Arcade Fire had the best opening song I've ever seen, not that I've seen any much less many of the all time great touring bands. But still, it started with the drummer strapping the tom around his neck and alternating between hitting the tom and hitting the tambourine in his other hand. On top of this came the greatest march ever, and a song that was more soccer chant than anything else. From there it somehow just got better, as their enthusiastic fist pumping brought down the stage's "lighting", which consisted of some christmas lights strung up above. I guess they don't have a CD out yet, but the September release of their CD should probably elevate Canada to super-power status.
But, a great opening band is a double-edged sword, just like the bible, living and active, able to seperate marrow and bone (I still remember that verse from bible quizzing. I also still remember Adam Kotsko out jumping me to quote that, the one memory verse I knew, and thus delivring his team the victory. I do hate him).
The Unicorns are an amazing band, a great band, possibly poised to take over the independent music stage once Death Cab for Cutie and others go mainstream. The music they produce is amazingly fun and energetic. I'm just going by instinct here, but they seem to have been high school friends, or at least to have known each other forever, and they just seem to have fun putting out the indie rock for the kids. I've replayed no song in recent months more often than "I Was Born A Unicorn". I intentionally held off listening to the rest of the album just so I could be blown away by the concert.
Yet, it's interesting how one elephant's butt hair (that's the real meaning of dude, dude!) can ruin an entire show. It's also amazing how when high school best friends (now I've confirmed that through reading an interview) tour for 8 months out of a year, they can seemingly get to the point where they'd like to see each other disembowled by part time CNBC financial consultant/WWE HARDCORE CHAMP, BRADSHAW!!
Both these factors were at work last night. The music was there, the band was all together pretty tight, they just seemed to not want to be there, at all. And I blame the girl in the front row. See, this girl in the front row apparently was complaining constantly about the guy next to her as he was elbowing her. She was so loud about it that the Unicorns stopped the show with some "Well, I just feel rude..I mean..you're trying to talk this out and we're here like, playing music over top and stuff..how terribly rude of us." antics. Eventually this evolved into the Unicorn fellow declaring a public forum and handing the mic to this girl, who said, drunkenly "I want this mfer to get his elbow out of my titties! that's just not cool man..not cool...man..yeah..that's just not cool!" The mic was next passed to some girl who were offended by an earlier joke the guy had made, one he had read off the bathroom wall. It was: "Why doesn't texas fall into the ocean? ... Because Oklahoma sucks". Simple enough. but this girl felt the need to go on and on about how Oklahoma has the nicest people. When he didn't apologize, she proceeded to flip the band off the rest of the show. Apparently, this showed just how nice and kind we Oklahomans are. Somehow.
This didn't help the situation..and when compounded by the fact that the two lead men in the band seemed on less than friendly terms, it made for something of an off night. Yet, the music itself had everyone moving, so that says something for the merits of the music itself. And, in an even stranger turn, despite the general feeling that stuff could have been better, the people I met at the show all seemed to leave glowing about the experience as a whole. This is what was so awkward. The main band was upstaged by their opener, they seemed to want to kill each other, and at least 15-20 minutes was spent passing the mic and voicing concerns about elbows in boobies and the self-worth of Oklahoma, and yet somehow through it all, it'd rank in the top 5 shows I've ever seen. I just wish the crowd hadn't sucked so bad, as you can probably now add the Unicorns to a growing list of bands that will never come back.
For those who love concert reviews, I'm going to see Spoon tonight in Norman. So, you might get another dosage. For those who don't, speak up, and I'll keep it to myself, as I'm really starting to feel music posts won't cut it anymore. In fact, maybe I need to skip a few CD Change posts until I can get other posting in order.. Heck, I did just get a book of the church father's first writings..maybe I could do a "Founders of the Church Change" post....
St. Cyprian of Carthage - To Pope Cornelius
I guess the kids call this "a letter" or something now. And it's pretty cool in it's style and all, but something about the content just seems..I don't really know, I can't place it. But like, we're gonna talk about readmitting the lapsed back into the church and stuff, why not do it with a beat I can dance to, in that sort of gesticulating, terrible looking dance that all of us in the habit of dancing in privacy have? This is my main problem with St. Cyprian, but, heck, with Phish breaking up, someone's got to bear the torch.
(12:45 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Friday Afternoon Confessional
It's that time again!
My main confession is that I'm sorry I made so many gestures toward taking over à Gauche's blog.
I'd also like to confess to a couple young ladies who apparently have decided they never want to talk to me again, even though there's a signficant overlap in our group of friends -- I'd like to confess that you can go fuck yourselves. Yes, we dated (or had one date), and no, it didn't go like you might have hoped -- but get over yourself. Seriously. Stop the little games of trying to leverage our shared friends into not inviting me to social gatherings out of "loyalty" to you. I know you guys go to Olivet, so it might often feel like you're still in junior high, but still: go to hell.
Feel free to interject comments about my hypocrisy in this matter along with your confessions.
Thursday, June 17, 2004
(8:13 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
I'm slowly working my way through the July/August Atlantic Monthly and have arrived at the article by James Fallows about Bush and Kerry's debate styles. I was shocked to learn that Bush was apparently a decent public speaker back during his governor days -- not nearly as awkward as he is now. Casting about for an explanation for the change, Fallows writes:
I have read and listened to speculations that there must be some organic basis for the President's peculiar mode of speech--a learning disability, a reading problem, dyslexia or some other disorder that makes him so uncomfortable speaking off the cuff. The main problem with these theories is that through his forties Bush was perfectly articulate. George Lakoff tried to convince me that the change was intentional. As a way of showing deep-down NASCAR-type manliness, according to Lakoff, Bush has deliberately made himself sound as clipped and tough as John Wayne. Moreover, in Lakoff's view, the authenticity of this stance depends on Bush's consistency in presenting it. So even if he is still capable of speaking with easy eloquence, he can't afford to let the mask slip.Fallows isn't too convinced by this theory, and I personally don't think it's as convincing as the explanation that Bush just became much more uptight and arrogant when he moved onto the national stage.
In any case, I am reminded of a theory that I floated to some CTS students during the California recall election (and again to some friends last night at the lovely Kandice Arwood's abode): there's no way Arnold Schwarzenegger has lived in the US for 40 years and still sincerely has that bad of an accent. On some level, it must be put on, part of the persona he's developed along the way. I mean, he's governor of California, he's married to a native English-speaker -- this is something he should have much more under control by now.
Wednesday, June 16, 2004
(10:52 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
I've listened to Summerteeth a lot lately, particularly the second song, "She's a Jar." I love nearly everything about the song, especially the lyrics, for example:
She's a jarIt all starts out so beautiful -- "sleepy kisser" especially stands out to me for some reason -- but by the end, he upsets me:
With a heavy lid
My pop quiz kid
A sleepy kisser
A pretty war
With feelings hid
She begs me not to miss her
She's a jarI don't understand. I suppose that some of the previous lyrics have prepared us for this point, maybe this stuff:
With a heavy lid
My pop quiz kid
A sleepy kisser
A pretty war
With feelings hid
You know she begs me
Not to hit her
Please beware the quiet front yardBut none of it seems like a sufficient cause for domestic abuse. What is this song saying? Is it saying that relationships can go sour due to hard circumstances? Is it implying that there's always an undercurrent of violence in romantic relationships? I really don't know. I'm disturbed, but I still listen to it every time I'm in the car.
I warned you
Before there were water skies
I warned you not to drive
Dry your eyes, you poor devil
I believe it's just because
Daddy's payday is not enough
Oh I believe it's all because
Daddy's payday is not enough
If anyone has given this any thought, I'd be interested to hear.
(8:45 PM) | Richard McElroy:
Aroung the world in 80 days. Extra LameA request was made for a movie person on this weblog, and I have answered that call. Hopefully we will all become great friends.
The last movie I saw was Around the World in 80 Days. My wife and I won free tickets to a preview of it. It was about what I expected. Extra lame. There were some funny cameos by the Wilson Twins, and Rob Schneider. Also a scene involving the word nipples. Other than that it was the same played out Jackie Chan hijinks. I have seen maybe 2-3 movies with him in them and I think they all involve a fight scene with a ladder, a bench and him getting trapped in a cart of some sort. Overall this movie doesn't deserve anything more said about it. Extra lame.
I also hope to make television recomendations/reviews. Right now we are watching Joe Schmo 2 on Spike TV, and tonight I will be watching Quintuplets staring Andy Richter. I haven't seen it yet and I recomend it. The only other regular show we have picked up for the summer is season 4 of Six Feet Under. If you haven't seen this show yet go out and rent season 1 on DVD, and then in July when season 2 comes out I won't have to tell you to rent that also.
Netflix movies in the house/on the way:
(6:44 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Attentive readers will note that Michael Hancock has been removed from the list of contributors. He has his own personal webspace, which I have added to the blogroll, for those who would like to continue to follow his adventures.
I'm sure that most of my other co-bloggers are already familiar with the reasons I thought this necessary. If you want an explanation, you can e-mail me personally. Rest assured, this is not part of a larger campaign to reduce the rolls.
I will write a "real," non-self-congratulatory, non-policy post later tonight.
(6:08 AM) | Adam R:
I, Me (Hosanna!)Adam Kotsko is a genius. Years ago he started his publishing empire with "The Homepage," one of the most satisfying nooks on the internet. Not happy with his success there--perhaps not yet considering himself a magnate--he has apparently decided to become the Lewis Lapham of the blogosphere. What a project! In fact, with the writers he's signing on, His Weblog might soon rival Harper's in volume (but probably not boring letters from the middle east).
And now I, me, little old Adam Robinson from The Pickle, shall take up my keyboard and write. Finally, I get to follow a Robb Schuneman post! I find myself wondering what "beat" my new boss, Mr. Kotsko, esq., will assign me. I'm confident that all the roles haven't been filled; consider my CV:
So those are my credentials. Hopefully I can be the first person to get fired from His Weblog, but it won't be for poor spelling or capitalization. If there's one thing I cherish, it's an independent clause. If there's one thing I hate, it's when my dog bites faces.
I'm tired of my own literary expertise, which is in Samuel Beckett and Kierkegaard. Despite how boring I think the topic is, however, I'm sure you will find it highly stimulating. Nothing is funnier than someone else's pain. I'm a Radiohead hater from way back when. Very few staffers here can claim that distinction. Also, I will never eulogize whats-his-shit, Billy Corgan. I've hobnobbed with Daniel Johnston. Very few readers will care and that gives me the Chord Organ Blues. But I won't let the Sun Go Down on My Grievance. Shit if my dog didn't get up in some li'l bit's grill and now she's gotta be quarantined for 10 days. My dog, I mean. Fuckin' hell, that makes me a Camus wiz, too, and Artaud. Rumor has it my boss, Mr. Kotsko, esq., is looking for a movie critic. Well, I can tell you one thing for sure: The Stepford Wives is an abomination.
So please remember, if you wanna be my dog, don't bite faces. And I'm very pleased to be here.
(1:00 AM) | Robb Schuneman:
"I already did"In the spirit of VH1, I declare this the Best Week Ever! I don't have corny pundits and would-be commentators to tell you why it was such a great week, but if I did, they'd definitely consist of an 84 year old bus-driver named "Blue", a 29 year old black man with an afro who is often rewarded with the sounds of Big Ben's chimes, Whoever created the computer virus "Sandbox", and...I don't know..Mavis Beacon for a good round number of panelists.
Whatever happened to Mavis Beacon? Although I did prefer the Mario Teaches Typing version..there was something about those beautiful, almost boy-ish locks, that long graceful neck, the smile that says you've been told to smile a lot in your life. Yes, that's right, even in pixelated form, I've never wanted anyone more. Could Mavis Beacon please join our blogging team? You could at least count on really quickly written posts. For someone who has taught America so much to be forgotten, and not given her own spot on The Surreal Life is truly a crime. God bless you Mavis, I'll name my first born after you, no matter the sex.
I think Mavis is pretty androgynous at least. Maybe not.
Anyway, I went to Iowa this past weekend. We saw the Bushrag. It was this truck with like..a tank body on top of it, so it could shoot tornadoes. It did not rag on Bush. Nor did it call Bush a "rag". However, in attempting to find the specs of that glorious vehicle which greeted us upon returning from the party bus, I did fing R.A.G. Bush..which is Republicans Against Bush..cause he's not being conservative enough. Weird. I then got to feel like I was in the Bushrag on my way home. But we'll save that for later.
How am I to speak at length about the weekend when all has been described by m2? Such a glorious time was had. It is indescribable, mainly because describing any of it might hurt me if I ever choose to run for political office. They dig that sort of stuff up when you run for Ward 3 Sewage Commissioner. But, it is enough to say that I saw 9/15's of The H Is O in full military regalia. And it left me in erotic awe and wonder. I may never touch myself the same again.
Man..there is so much more to say in that regard, but with the enormosity of m2's post, and the even greater enormosity of the weekend itself, I am in utter inability to describe it. Let us just say that it made me feel nautious, but in a way that was marine, and indeed, somewhat healthy.
On the way home, I ran through Hell. And it was pretty cool. The Gipper was doing well. OH NO I DIDN'T. I really shouldn't have. I'm regretting now the fact that my backspace key doesn't work. But, no, like, apparently, there were some 30 tornadoes in Iowa, Missouri and Kansas that night. Let us just say that I hit 'em all. The last hour's drive was normal rain, but for the rest I liberally had to use both lanes to avoid tree branches and what not. Many people were pulled on to the side of the road, we call such people "nanceys". I also hadn't told my mother I was coming home that night, but rather sunday, because I didn't want her to worry. Lightning struck within 100 feet of my car at least 6 times. For all of the day afterwards, I could close my eyes and see 3 of those 6 bolts still eminating off of my eyelid. Or whatever it is that you see when your eyes closed. Once, a bolt struck a tree, and the tree was instantly engulfed in flame. I was looking directly at this, and my right eye has burned ever since, about once every 5 hours it will start twitching uncontrollably for many minutes on end. What's more, that very same bolt fried my stereo. So, I had nothing to listen to for the last half of the trip home. But, at least I made it through each of the CDs once, so I can still do a CD change post about the road trip CDs, should the good Lord tarry. Yeah..it was this.
It was all good though, I called m1 from a rest stop inbetween topeka and KC, just so if I died, people would have some rough estimate of where to start looking. It should have taken me 8 hours, instead it took me 13 and a half. I rolled into Yukon at 8:30, called my mom, and after she calmed down, she had the gall to ask if I was going to church. And then - this is the fun part - I was pretty awake, so I did. I then got home from church at 1 and slept until the next morning.
This whole post up until now has been simply for about 15 people with some interest in what's been described. I'll try to speed it up, sorry. I'm in a mood to make really corny jokes or play NBA Live 2004 all night..this is never a mood in which one should take up a keyboard.
So, here's the amazing part - the part I had to post about. When the Pistons, my Pistons, the same Pistons I sat in my friends two-room trailer and listened to win a championship when I was 7, made it to the finals, I did a frivelous thing. I saw that many places online were offering 100-1 odds that the Pistons could defeat the lakers in 5 games. I figured, in the spirit of the game, that I could spend 10 bucks on making the games a lot more interesting. So, yeah, I made $1,000 tonight. I very, very nearly put down $100 dollars, but then figured I better not since I was going to Iowa. But - as long as one doesn't take into account the fact that I very nearly could have had $10,000 dollars, I came out pretty well this week. One thousand on the game, minus ten dollars and 75 cents lost in that place with a lot of "lights" and "noises" that mark described..minus the cost of fixing my stereo, which was about 50 dollars, minus the cost of the massive hail damage to my car..which actually doesn't count since I'll just let my car look more like crap - and I come out to a postiive $939.25.
Blogging hard or hardly blogging?
Tuesday, June 15, 2004
(9:13 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Sometimes, people need to write a really fucking long post. Blogger doesn't accomodate that very well, and that sucks. They need to change that. Until they do, I am instituting a new policy. If you need to write a really fucking long post, you should compose it using this file as a template, then saving your post under a different name (back in my Homepage days, I used to save my new post over the template file constantly, and it pissed me off to no end). It should be fairly straightforward how to use this file --initially I'd recommend filling in all the generic spots with your own information and resaving it (for instance, fill in "Monica Bennett" instead of "Author," etc., but only if you are actually Monica). Then cut and paste the first couple paragraphs into the Blogger window, upload the file containing the whole post, and make a "click here to read the entirety of my fucking long post" or something similar. You don't have to use curse words, though you are encouraged to do so whenever necessary.
This is the best method I can think of to duplicate the much-envied Movable Type feature that Blogger really needs to implement, but hasn't. I leave it up to your judgment when a post is long enough to require this kind of treatment. The only examples that really jump out at me are Robb's CD-change posts, one of which he might be typing up as we speak.
(6:12 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Garrison Keillor: A National Treasure
I know people think that NPR isn't very good and that "we leftists" need to invest in a radio infrastructure built primarily on "attitude" -- but I'm sick of attitude. Yes, some of the shows are boring. Yes, Terry Gross is simply awful. But I challenge anyone to show me any widely available media product that is of consistently higher quality than A Prairie Home Companion or This American Life. I challenge you to find a news source that is more consistently trustworthy and even-handed than NPR. This is what happens when news and entertainment is done on something other than a for-profit basis. This is what happens when you get a group of people together who believe that the radio is a medium of public service that cannot simply be reduced to another tool for the extraction of profit. NPR may well be the last broadcast media venue in America that reminds us what it is like to do broadcasting without a dismissive snear -- what it might look like not to be engaged in a contest of who can be the ugliest.
The "sneering discourse" -- how else to describe the blogosphere, or at least its leading lights? I certainly agree with Atrios on many questions of substance, but I'm not sure that his approach is ultimately different on a formal level from Glenn Reynolds', with his snarky "indeeds." How many blog posts do we read every day that end with something like "imagine if Clinton had tried to pull this shit" or "of course, if it was a liberal who was doing this, the media would be all over it"? Smug superiority, the media become little more than fodder for snearing media criticism. Give us the formulae! Who is good and who is evil?
Are the Republicans really the only Manichean dualists around here? Is there anyone who has not used a guilt-by-association argument? Is there any mainstream public debate right now in which people are really acting in good faith, really putting everything out on the table, without first filtering it to test its relative benefit to one "side" of the political debate? I know, I know -- in order to get "our" goals through, we have to get those evil people out of office -- but when was the last time "we" made even a token gesture toward achieving "our" goals? 1994?
I'm still voting for Kerry in 2004, and I'm confident he'll do a significantly better job than Bush, but I wonder when was the last time that politics properly so-called took place -- not our debased concept of "politics" as the jockeying for position of the two major political parties, but politics as the people actually making choices about how we want to build our society. I wonder when we'll finally cash in on the promise of democracy.
(12:06 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Christianity as a Success
A clarion call: To the practices! To the liturgies! To the disciplines! Enough of the obscurantism of "belief in God" -- we must practice, even to the exclusion of preaching! This is the call of much of contemporary theology -- getting down to the distinctive practices, away from the inner dispositions. But what if we have already done that?
A quote from Nietzsche:
Unconditional honest atheism (and its is the only air we breathe, we more spiritual men of this age!) is therefore not the antithesis of that ideal [i.e., the ascetic ideal], as it appears to be; it is rather only one of the latest phases of its evolution, one of its terminal forms and inner consequences--, it is the awe-inspiring catastrophe of two thousand years of training in truthfulness that finally forbids itself the lie involved in belief in God.
Perhaps Christianity really is more of a moral code than a matter of systematic theology -- and perhaps the Enlightenment is what you get when you push Christianity far enough (thus ironically vindicating those evangelical pseudo-intellectuals who think that modern science relies on "a Christian idea of God"). In conversation with Mike Schaefer last night, I shared my desire to perform a thought-experiment: what if Christianity was a success? What if it worked?
I think here of Bonhoeffer and his desire for a religionless Christianity -- what if he didn't so much call for it as announce its coming? In his Ethics, a very puzzling text, he gives significantly more credit to Nietzsche than to Luther and Calvin. If he had lived, would he have turned the corner? Would he have stopped blaming the church for failing to "be the church"?
I don't know. Anthony Smith is back, so hopefully he'll have some insight, being our resident Nietzschean. He's also read Zupancic's book all the way through, and even written a paper! Man, when he starts posting lengthy stuff again, it's going to be great.
HOUSEKEEPING NOTE: I plan on inviting three or four more people to post, and I figure at least one will accept. I think that The Weblog would be qualitatively better if we had a "movie person" to match our once and future "music person" (the lovely and talented Robb). Darren from Long Pauses is the only blogger I know who fits that description, and I doubt he wants to whore himself out for us. In short, if you know of anyone, let them know I'm looking.
Here's the current faculty breakdown:
- Adam Kotsko: Psychoanalysis, contemporary continental thought, Christianity, meta-blogging
- Robb Schuneman: Music, Christian pop culture, Vonnegut
- Michael Schaefer: Geo-politics, political economy, Japanese popular culture
- Anthony Smith: Contemporary continental thought, Nietzsche, ecclesiology
- Michael Hancock: Classical music (composition), creative writing, prog rock
- Monica Bennett: Emancipatory studies, Carl Jung
(12:15 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Making The Weblog more blogical
John Ashcroft is the worst attorney general ever. Eugene Volokh is the only smart right-wing blogger, and he has decided not to write about torture. Kieran Healy declares preemptive war on obnoxious frequent flyers, bloggers who don't link to his posts, and other miscreants. Chun the Unavoidable writes about the Pistons and Clinton's plan for preemptive war in Iran. Amardeep Singh interrogates the utility of the term postmodern. Michael Bérubé exposes Dinesh D'Souza as a total hack (and meanwhile, his manservant has updated the template).
Matthew Yglesias weighs in on a sensible compromise for those whose gipperporn addiction can be satisfied by nothing less than seeing the man's mug on some money. Once again, m2 takes the liberty of summarizing his co-bloggers' posts. The Young Hegelian quotes Adorno on sports (and by the way, start reading his blog, damn it). Ogged quotes The New Criterion (John Holbo's favorite source of real literary criticism) on the cowardly Spaniards -- who, if we'll remember, took to the streets following their terrorist attack, while we all had to be told that it was okay to go back to work -- and Fontana Labs destroys Dave Eggers' soul.
The world wants to know: Is Cap'n Pete dead? At The University Without Condition, the discussion of Kafka continues at a breakneck pace. Neal Pollack is still alive and blogging, and A Tiny Revolution is so good that I might have to confess to some envy this Friday. Finally, à Gauche reports on his experience in the very bowels of hell.