Sunday, December 30, 2007
(12:31 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Hope in the Coming YearI don't make a conscious effort to recycle. If a bin is nearby, I use it, but I don't separate out recyclables, despite the fact that my ward offers curbside recycling. Part of this is laziness, but the ethical justification is that the personal righteousness attached to recycling (for instance) is meaningless. A single corporate executive could, in one stroke, do more to "reduce the use" than I could in my entire lifetime -- for instance, by cutting in half the 40 lbs. of packaging that surrounds the average phone. To focus on individual choices and "awareness" is sheer illusion; the change needs to be systemic.
Under neoliberalism, however, any positive systemic change seems to be impossible. The balance is absolutely in favor of nihilistic corporate power, which is now governed by an ever-shrinking horizon -- the next quarter results, the next episode of a stock-picking TV show, etc. The long-term simply does not exist, which renders the traditional apologetics for capitalism even more ridiculous than they would've been under Fordism -- it makes intuitive sense to say that companies won't produce poisonous products out of a concern for their reputation, but by the time the poison is detected, the profit has already been made and looted by some executive or other. At the time when mass investment in infrastructure and the accompanying massive restructuring of our way of life are the only way to ensure any kind of future, neoliberalism is not simply a "bad" ideology, but exactly the wrong ideology.
With its stranglehold on our political and media elites, however, it seems impossible to dislodge. In the neoliberal frame, politicians can display political acumen approaching genius -- for instance, Bill Clinton or Chicago's Mayor Daley -- and nevertheless still produce only "less bad" results. Meanwhile, the plain fact that neoliberalism is bad for virtually everyone except for the increasingly small elite class seems to call for a populist uprising -- yet neoliberalism itself has destroyed the social solidarity that would make such an uprising viable. I love John Edwards' populist rhetoric. I love that a mainstream candidate is daring to speak out against corporate power. Yet assuming he entered into office, he would be facing up against a concentration of power that is unprecedented in human history, and not only on the level of propaganda.
People worry about irrational Clinton-hatred, but the machine could just as easily be turned against Edwards, whom the media already hates for his "phoniness." And there would be no comparable power to take his side -- other than a "netroots" community that is largely content to congratulate itself on its correct political opinions while collectively procrastinating from office work. Our public life -- our real, physical public life -- is dominated by a fear of state violence and a corresponding desire to demonstrate obedience. Even on the level of the idiotic security regulations for air travel, this is more than obvious. Mass civil disobedience would overwhelm the system and make the petty and pointless rules unworkable. The much-lauded American "common sense" and "rugged individualism" are apparently unable to overcome our collective Stockholm Syndrome, our desire for more and more rituals to demonstrate our innocence of any terrorist leanings. The protests against the criminal war in Iraq displayed the same blind obedience -- well-dressed people eager to "express their opinions" in the designated areas. Populism can't work when there is no "people."
The days of the 9/11 attacks demonstrated that social solidarity can still happen. Take, for instance, the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania. In previous hijackings, cooperating with the hijackers was the safest bet. Once the suicide attacks had happened, however, the passengers were able to band together to prevent further loss of life. A rational government with some degree of trust in its citizens would not have implemented ever-more-humiliating security measures, but would trust that in the unlikely event of another attempt at a 9/11-style attack, passengers would immediately rise up to prevent it. One wonders if the approach taken by the Bush administration was directly intended to break down this kind of spontaneous solidarity by replacing it with a pseudo-solidarity of obedience and fear.
Barack Obama, despite his background as a community organizer, appears to be offering only a solidarity of the elites -- a solidarity that is already only too strong, as the bipartisan support for the Iraq War demonstrates. The only "hope" that I can now hold out for Obama is that his rhetoric is all an elaborate ruse. But the very fact that he brings up such idiocies as the "Social Security crisis" and echoes right-wing critiques of socialized health care demonstrates that his bipartisan rhetoric is bound to be in service of yet more triangulation -- and if we're to get triangulation, why not cut to the chase and go for Clinton herself?
I'm on the verge of directly opting for Clinton, as a strategic matter. Under current conditions, Edwards -- and it pains me to say this, as it would be through no fault of his own -- would almost certainly be a miserable failure, which would result in pushing the Democrats further to the right. Clinton is not positively good, but she may be the person best positioned to stave off the worst for a little longer, to buy us a little more time.
Friday, December 28, 2007
(12:00 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Friday Afternoon Confessional: "Have you thought about getting a light box?"I confess that I spent all day Thursday watching the third season of Arrested Development. I enjoyed it immensely, but the hypothetical non-compressed version of the season, where they didn't have to cram 15 episodes into 6, would've been even better. I confess that it's hard to feel the same righteous indignation I felt about Twin Peaks, partly because they at least wrapped up the story and partly because I have to admit that I only watched Arrested Development sporadically when it was on.
Now that I think about it, I barely ever watched Futurama when it was on, either, and later came to love it fiercely. Perhaps I personally have control over what gets cancelled on Fox Sunday night -- in which case I really need to stop watching American Dad. And Family Guy, too.
I confess that receiving Christmas gifts (particularly clothes) serves as a kind of nodal point, where virtually all of my childhood neuroses become intertwined. I confess that I was able to delay my Christmas-related resurgence of childhood neuroses until I was safely back in Chicago, and now I'm much more sympathetic to the fact that my sister "broke" the afternoon before she left.
I confess that I'm starting to plan for two months of solid depression a year, running from the time change to New Year's. Coming off of Thanksgiving with Christmas in the near future ushers in the darkest period, but getting past Christmas puts me well on the road to recovery. I confess that New Year's is always disappointing to me. In fact, any holiday with a compulsory party attached to it disappoints me, when I don't actively hate it (viz., Halloween). Maybe I just don't like big group events.
I confess that I was very disappointed not to be able to find the classic ice cream sandwiches at the grocery store today. I specifically wanted the kind where the "bread" of the sandwich is soft and sticks to your fingers, because with the firmer "bread," there's too much of a risk of squeezing the ice cream out the sides. But in any case, I was out of luck -- it's all this name brand nonsense, ice cream versions of candy bars.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
(8:52 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Kotsko's Greatest Hits, vol. 3This list covers 2007. For previous greatest hits, click here.
- What happens to a coup deferred?
- Messiness of the Elites
- Prolegomena to Any Future Meta-Blogging That Will Be Able to Come Forward as a Science
- Unbelievable Affront
- Finishing My PhD
- The Power of Social Forces
- Playing With Batman Dolls
- Spring Weather: With Notes on Cats and Dogs
- A Secret Outline of the Next Season of 24
- Negative Approval Ratings
- Permission Mondays: A New Weekly Feature [note: this feature did not long endure]
- Idea for a New Yorker Cartoon
- Bible Deathmatch
- Reflections on the Religious Right
- An All-Purpose Response
- Commercials and Race
- The Real Problem With Bush
- Reasonable Violence
- The Asymmetry of Parody
- Falsifiability and Theology
- Stab in the Back
- On Hating Democrats
- Liquidate the Democrats: A Thought Experiment
- Writing: Idiosyncrasies
- "Vote Accordingly"
- The Continued State of Exception
- The Joys of Neoliberalism in Chicago
- Reflections on Netflix
- Traffic Boosting [in which I solicit a date from my readers]
- Our Country's Good Name
- Hope in the Coming Year
This year was thinner than previous years, due to a combination of two factors: the decision to put all "academic" content on An und für sich and the fact that I wrote a book this year. The first factor continues to be a problem, as The Weblog struggles to find an identity other than "The old Weblog minus the academic stuff." I'm sure we'll figure something out.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
(1:10 AM) | Brad:
Christmas Night JazzThe final hours of Christmas are my favorite. It's a time you can go out for a walk, or hit one of the local bars that are open, and run into those people who have likely been stuck with family all day ... but who have survived. It's after 10, and they've snuck out, or have been given an hour reprieve. And, here they are, beat down and spent, accosted by a seasonal weariness that draws them away from those they love and pulls them closer to strangers. The "silent night" of Christmas is too often mistaken for Christmas Eve. It's not until after the screaming of labor, or of in-laws, or of nieces & nephews, though, that we find silent at all holy.
I hope you've found some silence today. If not literal silence, I hope you've found something worth listening to that didn't ask more than its share of your soul & sanity. Something like, say, a good jazz collection. Such as the one I promised you last week, from one of my favorite CDs, Charlie Parker & the Stars of Modern Jazz at Carnegie Hall (Christmas 1949).
First, there's Bud Powell and his trio going to work in "All God's Children Got Rhythm".
After that, Miles Davis kicks into gear with the other All Stars on a raucous version of "Move".
Then, Ms. Sarah Vaughn steps to the mic and belts out "Mean To Me".
At this point, the audience had to think ... Charlie Parker hasn't even stepped on stage, and already we've forgotten everything we hate about this bloody holiday. In fact, if anything, thank Christ for the holiday, because it gave some big-pocketed promoter an excuse to pull this show together and possibly even somebody the rationale to buy me a ticket. Ah, but they see Bird take the stage, and unlike last time they saw him, he looks lucid & sober, and they know now that the show was set to become special. And perhaps it was only until after Parker's solo in "Ko-Ko" that many in attendance would find warrant to say to nobody in particular, to strangers and themselves alike, Merry Christmas, indeed.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
(3:17 AM) | it:
Tuesday Hatred: Christmas Special
Merry Christmas God-fearing and fear-fearing readers of the Weblog alike. May all your birds be stuffed and your presents fully-refundable...
Today's hatred comes to you from deepest darkest Wiltshire, home of druids, ley-lines, crop circles, pre-historic monuments of uncertain purpose and my parents. I don't hate them, though, as they're lovely (even if we didn't celebrate xmas when I was younger because they thought that as atheists to do so would be 'hypocritical'...bloody Guardian readers!).
Anyway, the countryside is a terrifying place, filled with the random cruelty of animals and the cold indifference of hedgerows. I hate the random cruelty of animals and the cold indifference of hedgerows.
I also hate television, Blair's entirely predictable conversion to Catholicism, the Daily Mail, the Royal Family, social niceties, the boredom of conversation and the silence of the night.
Happy Holidays! Any Christmas Hate may be deposited in the box below.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
(3:09 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
On Being Proud of One's ParentsI went home for Christmas a little early this year so that I could hear my dad's band, Episodic, play a show. I had listened to the demo, so I knew that they were good, but nonetheless I was really impressed by their live show. They started off with a true prog-rock epic, including a pretty balls-out guitar solo by my dad. Apparently they're playing in Grand Rapids next week, if any of my readers are loathsome western Michiganites and want to go see them. An album is currently in the production stage, and they're already writing new material.
Meanwhile, my mom's birthday was today, and someone gave her an Italian phrasebook for her second trip to Europe this coming summer with her school. She hopes to go enough times that when the teacher who currently leads the trips retires, she can take over leading them. In the last few years, she's also been to India -- and won a teacher award her first year, and been on the front page of the Flint Journal for the creative activities she comes up with for her kids.
And as an added bonus: my sister spends her days teaching kids who are transitioning from jail back into the normal school population.
(10:25 AM) | Adam R:
Serious Art Stuff, Call For Submission, AWPAdam asked me how come I don't post something about Publishing Genius here at The Weblog, so now, gratefully, I am. For the December installment of This PDF Chapbook, Stephanie Barber has converted her Lawn Poem lecture (which she gave recently at Rupert Wondolowski's Shattered Wig Night here in Baltimore) into a printable format. It's a really remarkable piece, something that grows and mellows and moves me. The last big section, about monsters, has been fun and mind-boggling to think about.
Also available now at the PubGen website is an interview with David Daniel (author of the Alex Rasmussen mysteries) and an excerpt in advance of his upcoming Publishing Genius fiction chapbook, Six Off 66. Thanks to Dan Trask for conducting the interview.
I'd also like to see whatever short poem you want hung up on a lamppost in Baltimore for the third issue of Baltimore Is Reads. We plan to start posting them in the real world in January, so contact me at adam AT publishinggenius.com soon! (Also in January, look for Chris Toll's super-fantastic eChap of poems, I'll Be the Invisible Girl Till the Day I Die.)
Is anyone going to AWP in NYC next month? I am!
Friday, December 21, 2007
(8:45 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Friday Afternoon Confessional: Just One More NightI confess that I am starting to view major socio-moral dysfunction as a positive qualification for political office. For instance, if I were to endorse a Republican candidate, I would go for Mitt Romney specifically because he's a pathological liar. Similar considerations have led me to be less panicked about the prospect of Hillary getting the nomination. I confess that the Chicago model of politics may be corrupting me. And maybe Zizek as well.
I confess that I have recently become enamored of Joanna Newsom's Milk-Eyed Mender, and I feel like I am supposed to be ashamed of admitting it. I confess that I just added Pitchfork to my RSS feed, so that I can more accurately gauge the degree to which my music taste is pathetic. I confess that I fear that Pitchfork is already no longer cool and no one told me. Where is Robb Schuneman when I need him?
I confess that I'm reading Church Dogmatics II/1 as part of my exam prep, and that I positively enjoy reading Barth -- next to him, every other theologian seems "hand-wavy," particularly 20th century theologians.
I confess that I've developed a severe addiction to Arrested Development. I confess that the rumors of
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
(11:11 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Liberal Fascism: No, ReallyMatt Yglesias has a ground-breaking idea that I fully and unreservedly endorse. If the US is to descend into dictatorship, it might as well be a benevolent dictatorship.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
(6:25 PM) | Brad:
Tuesday Afternoon Jazz: Random Track EditionAgain, sorry for the delays between jazz posts, but nothing was really striking me for a while. I've been busy, stressed, sick, etc., and mostly listening to Bob Dylan and opera. But, I'm returning to jazz. Last night, I was washing dishes, and just popped in a Mulgrew Miller CD, and everything clicked into place.
Today, I've returned to the Live Trane boxset I mentioned last month. I'm still working my way through it. Today, while reading Against the Day, ever so slowly making my way through that 1,100-page beast, this 18-minute version of "Mr. P.C." sent me into a hierophantic place where I saw & understood all. Which is all we can ask for from a Tuesday afternoon.
UPDATE: I only just now realized that I'd already uploaded "Mr P.C." once back in early-November, also from Live Trane. It was, however, I think from another disc of the set. So, fear not, and enjoy the rearrangement and improvisation. And ... stay tuned next week, when I'll upload tracks from the classic live 1949 Christmas show, Charlie Parker & Stars of Modern Jazz at Carnegie Hall. I've been waiting all year to do that.
(1:10 PM) | Brad:
It's the Wood
My Christmas wish this year is quite simple. A heaping pile of chicken with hundreds of pictures of Kenny Rogers staring at me, begging me to eat his wood-roasted chicken. Leering at me, as I wipe my mouth & hands with a lemony, disposable towelette.
Oh, but this is but a wish! Kenny has left the chicken-roasting business. Run out of town by that cheap whore, Boston Market. I can but dream.
But wait! What's that? There's one remaining Kenny Rogers Roasters in U.S., and it is at the Ontario Mills Mall, just outside of Los Angeles?? Who knew that wishes do sometimes serve themselves up, like piles of macaroni & cheese and potato salad. I-5, here I come!
Expect a full report.
(8:25 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Tuesday Hatred: Too Much, Too SoonI hate Christmas as it is currently practiced. I would be pleased if its status was downgraded to be similar to Easter -- go to church if so inclined, go out to dinner with your family if they're nearby, but no one is expected to make a special trip. As for gifts, maybe we could all just make an extra effort remember each other's birthdays. On average, people vaguely (or not so vaguely) resent half the gifts they receive and probably three-quarters of the gifts they give, and children's mania for Christmas gifts seems to be driven primarily by a combination of the conformism imposed by every facet of public schooling and a child's unique susceptibility to advertising.
I hate it when people criticize the Bush administration from the perspective of "the true meaning of America." I hate it when people advocate school voucher systems. I hate that the CTA funding issue isn't resolved.
I hate that I keep forgetting to link to Tuesday Love.
Monday, December 17, 2007
(5:17 PM) | F. Winston Codpiece III:
Ask Someone Other Than Amy: Holiday StressIn all my years living in various underpasses of the Kennedy Expressway, no public figure in Chicago has so rankled me as the Chicago Tribune's advice columnist Amy Dickinson. Bereft of Mayor Daley's disarming good looks, FOX News Chicago anchor Mark Suppelsa's plasticity, and the positive qualities of the many other Chicago public figures whose names and characteristics I cannot presently recall, Ms. Dickinson gives the very concept of advice a bad name. Now that I have my own internautical platform from which to spread my own unique outlook, I have accordingly decided to begin an occasional series devoted to correcting her columns by offering alternative answers to the questions she most badly botches.
In her most recent column, Alexa in Maryland asks:
Here is how our family handles the stress of holiday giving.Amy's answer to this "question" is a tepid approval of the reader's proposed strategy. My response would be totally different:
Mine is one of those blended families where the oldest "kid" is 32 and the youngest is 8.
Our most recent solution is that all the guys put a fixed and modest sum ($100) for a "guy activity." This might mean spending the day doing paint ball or riding race cars together.
The women do the same thing and usually choose to have a spa day together. The key is to do something together.
Dear Alexa, I apologize for my lack of clarity. When you read that I was running an advice column here, you seem to have read that as an invitation to send in your own advice. Though it is uncanny that you, too, belong to "one of those blended families where the oldest 'kid' is 32 and the youngest is 8," I resent the implication that I do not know how to handle the stress surrounding holiday gift-giving. I know how to handle every life situation with aplomb, and that is why I have a world-renowned advice column -- viz., to offer advice, not to solicit it.
As for the substance of your remarks, I have to wonder from whence this obsession with "togetherness" comes -- a "togetherness" mysteriously predicated on the separation of the sexes. Might not that 32-year-old "kid," be he or she male or female, need a spa day or a game of paintball, respectively? And what of the 8-year-old? If he or she does not build up immunity through exposure to moderate levels of cooties in family settings, his or her chances of contracting a serious case of cooties in school increases tenfold, according to a recent NIH study. With such poor parenting skills on public display, you dare to send advice to me, a noted Internet personality and advice columnist? Fie upon thee! FIE!
(3:10 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Promoting Zizek and TheologyWith characteristic prescience, Dejan of the Cultural Parody Center has reviewed Zizek and Theology without reading it. Those of you who also haven't read it will have to decide for yourselves whether his charges are accurate.
I would just like to clarify one matter, however: Dejan continually accuses me of being a "perpetual PhD student." In reality, I'm making remarkably quick progress. I just finished my coursework last week, I've done two qualifying exams already, and I'm on pace to be ABD by the end of the academic year. If my plan to finish my dissertation within a year holds, I will have a PhD before my 29th birthday. I ask you, readers: does that process sound protracted to you?
Meanwhile, my British readers who want to have the earliest possible shot at doing an old-fashioned "after-having-read-the-book" review may take advantage of Amazon's convenient preorder feature. (Americans will have to wait until some unknown date to preorder.)
Saturday, December 15, 2007
(1:14 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
ExcitementThe Extras series finale is tomorrow night at 8 CST. I hope Andy proposes to Maggie!
Friday, December 14, 2007
(12:00 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Friday Afternoon Confessional: Cheap ShotsI confess that my only immediate task right now is to write up some reading notes on Hadewijch, and I do not want to do it. I confess that my current strategy is to convince myself that it's better to do the notes now in order to keep myself from watching the two Arrested Development DVDs I have from Netflix all at once, so that I'll (pathetically) have something to do this weekend. I confess that structured procrastination has become second nature to me -- already, my delay tactics on the Hadewijch notes have led me to go grocery shopping and to undertake a much-needed reorganization of my files.
I confess that I support the CTA one-day quasi-strike. I confess that my support is meaningless, since I have no need to leave the house that day, or indeed virtually any other day far into the indefinite future.
I confess that I want to try to learn to read Greek in an unrealistically short amount of time, while also studying for exams. I confess that I have no clue where my money is going to come from during the spring semester, and especially the summer. I confess that my ability to handle such uncertainty has increased over time, but I'm starting to worry that I'm running out of things to cash out -- I can only sell my truck once, and cash out my "retirement funds" from substitute teaching once, and on and on.
I confess that if you know academics who need their books indexed, you should have them contact me.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
(8:58 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
A Technical QuestionWhy exactly do web page editors generate such horrible HTML? Microsoft Word seems to be one of the worst offenders, but any time I've used any other wyswyg tool, the results have been terrible. I feel like even with this blog post, which has no formatting whatsoever, a web page editor would've introduced a lot of superfluous tags. Is coding a document using the least possible number of tags an intrinsically hard thing to get a computer to do?
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
(9:51 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
BlowbackLast night, while I was watching Office reruns on TBS, they were aggressively pushing a show called Frank TV, which was coming on right after The Office. It didn't look great by any means, but under normal circumstances I might have left it on for at least a few minutes, out of inertia.
Despite my midwinter blues and my profound lethargy, however, I changed the channel immediately. Why? Because the marketting campaign for Frank TV includes talking urinal ads that last for what seems like five minutes. Behavior like that must be punished. Sorry, Frank.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
(7:27 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Tuesday Hatred: Too Little, Too LateI hate walking around in the freezing rain. I hate getting my hopes up for my first snow day in over a decade, only to have them dashed. I hate when people have extended cell phone conversations on the CTA. I hate that the elevators at my two most frequently used train stations so often seem to be set to go in the wrong direction -- for instance, why would you have the escalator set to go up during morning rush at a Loop stop?
I hate Gov. Blagojevich, and I hate that there is a growing consensus among our great state's leaders that expanded gambling is a safer bet than a negligible sales tax increase.
I hate ill-defined exam areas for which I have no one to blame but myself. I hate that I'm currently in a situation where my reward for finishing tedious task A is to be able to get a jump on tedious task B. I hate how close together Thanksgiving and Christmas are. I hate that I apparently now require ten or eleven hours of sleep a night, plus a nap. I hate nap hangovers.
Saturday, December 08, 2007
(8:56 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Introducing Žižek and TheologyI have written a guest post at the T&T Clark blog about my forthcoming book, Žižek and Theology.
[I also note that it is listed on Amazon, which I had mentally designated as the moment when it would officially register with the big Other.]
Friday, December 07, 2007
(12:00 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Friday Afternoon Confessional: DeconstructiconsI confess that I bought a bottle of Gatorade that was so difficult to open that the attempt actually drew blood. Improbably enough, a football player type of guy was sitting at the computer next to me at the U of C library, and he was not able to open it either. I finally took it back to where I bought it and exchanged it, and the manager acted like it was the most interesting thing that had ever happened -- due to some manufacturing error, the top hadn't been properly perforated. I confess that I was glad that it was intrinsically impossible to open.
I confess that on Thursday I finished the second of my six exams -- the last one that I can take separately from the two-week "balls out" exam extravaganza. My topic was deconstruction (which is supposed to fulfill the requirement that one of our exams be about our methodology). I confess that I was paranoid that Ted would give me a really specific question about a text I hadn't read, but it turned out to be pretty straightforward. The first question was essentially to explain deconstruction as a (quasi-)method, and the second asked me to analyze the later Derrida's quasi-transcendentals. I feel like I passed.
I confess that now I need to write a 10-page paper and compile some reading notes over Hadewijch, and I will be done with coursework. I confess to a certain ambivalence toward the prospect of not being in class, after all this time.
I confess that I'm dealing with the depression attendant on Seasonal Affective Disorder in some strange ways.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
(3:06 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Instructions to My Future Students: On Citing the DictionaryIf you find yourself writing, "According to the Mirriam-Webster College Dictionary, 5th edition..." in the course of an academic paper -- or even worse, "The Mirriam Webster College Dictionary, 5th edition, tells us..." -- you have gone badly astray. The only dictionary you are allowed to cite is the OED, which contains hidden lore.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
(2:58 AM) | it:
Tuesday Hatred: Not Enough Funny Pigs In the World EditionI hate that, despite being almost thirty, I somehow think that setting up a LOLpig site would be a productive use of my time. I hate that I'll probably spend Christmas doing this very thing, despite having a book to finish by December 31st. I hate that I haven't yet started the book, due to a combination of excessive amounts of teaching and rampant socialising. I hate having to teach Aristotle for four-hour stretches. I hate his boring reasonableness, though I suspect he would have been good at coming up with captions for my virtual LOLpig site.
I hate that my blush response is completely knackered, so it looks like I'm really nervous or angry at completely inappropriate moments. I hate the biofeedback effect of blushing, such that the realisation that one is going a bit pink leads to one going a bit more pink. I hate how the maladaptivity of the human animal is made so persistently frigging obvious when the mere idea of it would be just as effective.
I less hate than am bemused by the person who sent me an email yesterday which contained the line: 'I have to say you do come across as deeply strange and a bit of a weirdo (no offense but that just my view).' Deeply strange and a bit of a weirdo? Honoured that I could be both, Sir! My correspondent goes on to say: 'You approving post on a woman cutting up a pig prompted me to email you' and 'Well I hope you grow up someday (maybe once you hit 30 and have some real responsibilities)' But Sir, I've just told you, I'm going to set up an LOLpig site! What would you have me do instead? Get a job in the city? Get knocked up? Achieve a mortgage? (At least two of these things are categorically impossible). I mean, isn't it enough that I'm contractually obliged to teach Aristotle, for God's sake? What could be more bleeding mature that that? Pshaw!
Erm...I also hate America*. Hate me back!
*I don't actually hate America. As I recall, it's full of sublime levels of doughnut choice and all the cops in New York look like extras in a film about cops in New York, so horrah for that. But I thought we could generate some US-UK special hatred so we can talk about bad teeth and imperialism, or something.
Monday, December 03, 2007
(4:39 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Inland EmpireI watched Inland Empire this afternoon, and even bracketting all of the obviously Lynchian elements, I could tell it was a Lynch film because when I left the house to go to the grocery store, the entire world felt ominous -- the grocery store was especially helpful, in that there was a strange hum in the chip aisle.
I'm not sure what to say about this movie overall. In some ways, it is the most self-indulgent film ever made -- for instance, Lynch allows his fascination with beautiful women to get really out of hand, with one showing her breasts to the other women in the roving horde of beautiful women solely for the sake of showing off her breasts. (Shockingly, however, fans of Laura Dern's breasts must return to Wild at Heart.) I almost had to laugh when I saw the trademark David Lynch "mysterious red curtains," as well.
I just can't dismiss the film outright, and I don't think it's simply because of my high esteem for Lynch in general. Lost Highway and Mulholland Dr. were both really confusing on the first viewing, but a second viewing at least gave me some grasp of what was going on. A second viewing of Inland Empire might do that as well, and even though it now seems like it's the most radically disjointed Lynch film yet, I don't feel confident making such a pronouncement without watching it again -- but I think I'll need a year or so to gather up the energy to do so.
Beyond the fatigue issues, I feel kind of like I've intruded on Laura Dern, having spent three straight hours looking at her. She deserves a break.
(9:19 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Hugo Chávez: The Next Stalin?The New York Times reports that the totalitarian, neo-Stalinist dictator Hugo Chávez's proposed constitutional changes were narrowly defeated and that the power-mad tyrant has conceded defeat.
Saturday, December 01, 2007
(7:09 PM) | Amish Lovelock:
Pragmatic RetreatSomething kind of shocks me and has happened on a number of occasions during the last few years or so. It usually involves people subscribing to the most radical intellectual resources of the last century only in order to come to the most conservative of conclusions. Like people talking about the politics translating Benjamin's "Zur Kritik der Gewalt," in order to make an argument in favor of redeeming parliamentary democracy (Ishinokawa Yasutaka). Or, someone creating a solid theory of the contemporary state drawing heavily from Deleuze, only to then argue for the strategic use of national belonging and/or citizenship as a principle for ensuring cross-the-board, "universal" welfare provisions at the same time as knowing full well that such a principle is heavily bound to the particular - especially in an age in which the number of migrant laborers is on the rise again here (Kayano Toshihito). Or, the case of a historian who has produced a series of three massive volumes on subjects that range from the postwar creation of the myth of national homogeneity, the colonial genealogy of "the Japanese," and the interplay between postwar patriotism and democracy - only to reject anticolonial critiques of the postwar intellectual establishment because these critiques simply "didn't enter the range of vision" of those who were on the brunt of them (Oguma Eiji).
It's almost as if the best minds of the generation just before mine feel an instinctive urge not to take the radical position. To step back in pragmatic retreat in conclusion.
(8:45 AM) | Adam Kotsko: