Monday, December 29, 2008

Soccer Mom Hair

So in a brief return to suburbia for the holidays my thesis, that haircuts once popular with lesbians have migrated over to the sanctified realm of middle-brow / soccer-mom hair salons, has been reinforced. With the dissolution of the riot-grrl movement and the general migration of its participants from radical womyn's vagina parties to your local food coops, whole foods, and midwifery school, so too the "grown-out" chelsea and the punk-rock version of the Mia Farrow doo also moved to a PTA meeting near you.

Check it out, even Britney Spears' move towards this type of hair style given her pregnancy:

Although I this may seem altogether practical given the fact that the on-line urban dictionary defines "soccer-mom hair" as:

Short, easily managed, but completely unfeminine and unflattering haircut worn by overweight, middle-aged women with 2.6 children who spend more than 40 hours per week, obsessively focussed on their precious children's extra-curricular activities. The often overly highlighted cut is typically parted in the center or to one side, with longish bangs, no hair products and is distinguished from more stylish and current short hairdos by it's roots in 70's and 80's fashion, re-hashing the "dorothy hamill" and "geraldine ferraro" styles, and often worn with "mom jeans," (also rooted in 80's style - high wasted with baggy ass and peg leg), baggy sweatshirts and white sneakers.
i want a short bob, but i don't want soccer-mom hair!

Gays tend to define the extremes of taste, be it the caricature of their own gender (or the "opposite" gender), the height of upper class taste, or utter tastelessness. So perhaps to some extent the evolution of gay taste sets boundaries on heterosexual taste as well.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Communique from Occupied New School

*We write this statement from an occupied New School University.*

At 8pm, December 18th, over 75 students reclaimed the cafeteria at the New
School University as an autonomous student center. Students from several
Universities commandeered this space. Students of City College, Borough of
Manhattan Community College, Hunter College and the CUNY Graduate Center are
here participating in this struggle. This is every student's occupation.

If this can happen at the New School, through the organized activity
of 75 dedicated students, it can happen at CUNY. And we certainly have
reason to be upset: On the first day of the Fall 2008 semester, the CUNY
budget was slashed $50.6 million. Massive layoffs plague all our schools.
We are now being told of a looming $600-per-year tuition hike and more
colossal budget cuts to CUNY students and teachers, in a school that was
once FREE.

We will continue this campus occupation until our demands are met.
While the demands tonight are specific to The New School we will not be
satisfied until the students and faculty of CUNY, NYU, all the
consortium schools and beyond, have control over their universities.
Education should be free, student debts should be cancelled, students and
workers should work together to achieve our goals, and we start here.

Please, come out to the New School and support us! Join us! We are at 65 5th
avenue (between 13th and 14th St.). The building will be open to all
consortium students at 7:30am, we invite you to come any time tomorrow, but
particularly at 10:30 when there will be a rally and press conference. The
morning hours will be crucial, and the student-occupiers need to know that
we are not struggling alone!

Our next stop? CUNY.
- CUNY students at The New School in Exile

Frank at 718.314.2328,
Conor Tom?s Reed at 979.204.9253,

----below we attach the communiqu? from all of The New School in Exile-----

An Open Letter: Come Occupy a Building with Us...Now

Dear Friends,

We are writing to you from the inside of the New School Graduate
Faculty Building on 65 5th Ave. We are occupying it. Right now.

Students of the New School University, along with our partners from
other universities and groups ? like NYU, Hunter College, City College
of NY, CUNY Graduate Center, and Borough of Manhattan Community
College, have organically risen up to demand the resignation of
President Bob Kerrey, Executive Vice President James Murtha, and Board
Member/torturer Robert B. Millard. We have come
together to prevent our study spaces from being flattened by corporate
bulldozers, to have a say in who runs this school, to demand that the
money we spend on this institution be used to facilitate the creation
of a better society, not to build bigger buildings or invest in
companies that make war. We have come here not only to make demands,
but also to live them. Our presence makes it clear that this school is
ours, and yours, if you are with us.

The outside doors have been closed now, so we can't exactly invite you
in...sorry... We know you wanted a piece of the action, but we'll be
around for quite some time. Join us at 7 AM tomorrow when the doors
open again, or come now to stand outside with a sign in solidarity.
You are cordially invited to join us in any way you can. We are not
going anywhere. In the meantime, check out our Web site: We have all night to make things
interesting, and the website will continue to be updated. Stay tuned
for the musical pieces, doctoral dissertations, and creative
finger-paintings that seem to be the natural result of 150 students
locked into a building together for a night.

We are here, making decisions collectively, doing teach-ins, listening
to music, studying, singing. We've got an upright bassist, guitarists
and vocalists (If anyone can volunteer a drum-set we'll be well on our
way...). We'll be here until this university changes, or until the
party gets boring (but it doesn't seem likely that will happen). We're
not going anywhere. We hope to see you soon, and if you really can't
wait a few hours ? what the hell ? occupy your own universities or
work spaces.

Come use your voice to declare loudly that this school and this world
are yours. Come use your mind to think up a better world. Come use
your body to create it, one all-nighter in the university cafeteria at
a time. Come stand in solidarity with the students, faculty, and staff
of this university. Come to write letters of support to the people of
the village of Thanh Phong whose parents were murdered by the current
President of the New School during his service in Vietnam. Come join
the struggle with the people of Iraq who are being tortured and killed
by a company funded by this university and represented on the New
School Board of Trustees. Come here to join the uprisings and
outpouring of passionate resistance currently taking place all over
this country, and all over the worlds ? from factory workers in
Chicago to students in Greece. Come for yourself. Come for all of us.

In solidarity,

The New School in Exile

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Flexible Accumulation and Academia

Flexible accumulation (a term coined by geographer David Harvey to delimit the Post-Fordist, Keynesian form capitalism manifest in Western countries) is hitting English departments nationally, as more and more the of the professorial workforce is casuallized, made part-time, and eliminated.

Inside Higher Ed reports:

"* Only 42 percent of all faculty members teaching English in four-year colleges and universities and only 24 percent in two-year colleges hold tenured or tenure-track positions.
* Part-time faculty members now make up 40 percent of the faculty teaching English in four-year institutions and 68 percent in two-year institutions. (Part timers are only a subset of those off the tenure track since, for several years now, an increasing share of the adjunct population works full time at a single institution.)
* Huge gaps exist in salaries between tenured and non-tenure track faculty members teaching English, although full-time adjuncts have seen salary growth in recent years. Per-course payments for part-time instructors have been relatively flat over the last eight years."

The humanities and social sciences in particular suffer from these changes in the economy of the university most, not only because they are often produce knowledge and products that are not as easily converted into businesses (as per new models of the neo-liberal university), but also because many of us tend to see our teaching and writing as a kind of radical activism, and thus we tend to feel as if the sacrifices we make personally and financially for academic work are part of some clergical mandate, the lamb we lay at the altar of "the struggle".

It is the extent to which we understand ourselves as "saviors" of our students or, perhaps, history, or even merely the last bastion of the public sphere, that we are all the more exploitable as a workforce for the ends of the late capitalist university.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

David Lynch on the iPhone

Although I am secretly in love with and desperately want an iPhone (it is the closest thing to the computer book carried by Inspector Gadget character Penny), I find Lynch's point amusing as well to some extent something I can agree with. The loss of the collective viewing and immersive atmosphere of the theater (even the domestic home theater) seems altogether lost in iDevice watching. The uniqueness of aspect ratio, the intricacies of staging and mise-en-scene are also to some extent compromised to these tiny spectatorship devices.

The above replies seem to affirm the visual/aural compromises implicit in Lynch's criticism, and also attempt to mock him--almost as if they are saying "this too has been repurposed and reduced."

Intro. to Film Text Books

This semester I was handed an introduction to Film Studies course. However, there were several mandates with which the course came: first, that the course follow a general historical trajectory (with an emphasis on production and economic bases) from the beginning of the film medium (the competing trajectories of the Lumiere Brothers and Georges Méliès), then the "important" narrative film movements, the golden age of Hollywood, the French New Wave, the "auteur" Renaissance in Hollywood, the emergence of the blockbuster; second, that the students have a working knowledge of the vocabularies for talking about mise-en-scène, cinematography, narrative, performance, etc.; the third, an introduction to cultural studies/film studies approaches to film (including Laura Mulvey's theory of the male gaze, auteur theory, Ideology critique, the Frankfurt School, etc.); and finally, I was enjoined to require 3 essays from my students, a midterm and a final exam.

To me this seemed partially an overwhelming set of mandates, particularly because I am a rather new initiate into film studies as I have only really taken interest in them in graduate school. I made the mistake of sticking close to my professor's syllabuses for the first half of the course, as my knowledge is limited on these films. To the second half I added weeks on the Documentary, and Pornography, two topics that are of central interest to me, moreso than most fiction film interests. To the critical perspectives, I added Laura Kipnis on Pornography, Paul Virilio on the Optics of War, Stuart Hall on the notion of audience formation, and perhaps most ill-advised Fredric Jameson on Reification & Utopia in Mass Culture.

The textbooks I selected, because I didn't have time to do the research, are choices that definitely need to be rethought.

The historical textbook I selected was Jon Lewis' American Cinema, recently released by Norton.

American Film: A History

Lewis does an excellent job giving context to a great deal of history and filmmaking. At times he focuses a little too much on specific films (and his descriptions are not always accurate). But he connects aesthetic and production trends to the general economic changes in the industry, acknowledges the contributions of women, talks about competing industries and film forms, and has just overall great big stills from the films which are useful historical documents in themselves. However, Lewis is not a great writer and his lack of evocative prose made it difficult to "riff" much off of the history he provides.

I will definitely select a different text for this. Also, I've realized that I am not great at teaching the historical elements in general, which is something I need to work on.

The textbook I selected to assist in discussing the formal vocabulary, was Bruce Kawin's How Movies Work.

How Movies Work

So I selected this book based on faculty input on an introduction to film studies course. While I think that is has very simple and clear examples, language, and the reading lengths were just right I find the distinctions Kawin makes in terms of techniques don't jibe with other film-studies scholars. This was particularly the case with distinguishing between constructive editing and dialectical editing. I am more inclined to use Film Art for my next course.

As usual, it is very difficult to teach my students (residing in the heart of the US technocracy and the seat of weapons industry development) that there are implicit political logics embedded in the formal, narrative, and representative functions of filmic texts. They had difficulty taking seriously, their own "entertainment," or even their boredom at takes that last longer than 20 seconds.

The misery of so many assignments I feel turned many of them against me.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Think's she's Mrs. Sand, drinkin' out of cups, bein' a bitch

An animation set to the soundtrack of a brooklyner(?) narrating his acid trip:

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Wild Blue Yonder

I just watched a rather amazing film by Werner Herzog (now one of my favorite directors since the release of Grizzly Man in 2005). This film recombines documentary footage from the inside of a NASA space vessel, general NASA goings on, diving in the Artic sea (beneath a layer of ice), interviews with mathematicians and what appear to be theoretical physics/astro-physics specialists, archival footage from the early days of flight, along with footage of actor Brad Douriff framing the action. The sections with Douriff essentially re-tell the documentary footage into a science fiction narrative, where an alien micro-organism leaks into the world from an ancient space craft, which prompts the CIA and NASA to send a mission to the outer reaches of the solar system in order to discover other habitable planets. What they discover is the frozen, dying planet, ostensibly home of Douriff's extraterrestrial character.

The addition of a rather amazing soundtrack from avant-garde cellist Ernst Reijseger, Senegalese vocalist Mola Sylla, and a group of Sardinian tenors (Tenores di Orosei) really orients the film toward much more than an awkward composite of contradictory and discontinuous takes. I don't think that any of the footage appears fully integrated into a believable narrative whole, that is to say that their status as documentary footage for other means remains despite the general narrative attempts to integrate these elements into an overall, but at the same time this doesn't seem like some sort of failure as a result. Instead the overall value of the film is bifurcated between its status as framed by narrative (and therefore fictions and fantasy) but also its "truth-value" (inherent for Andre Bazin in the ontology of the film form itself).

Below is the trailer for The Wild Blue Yonder (Herzog 2005).

Herzog himself suggests a new approach to "empirical," "documentary," or "argumentative" filmmaking in this poorly conducted with Henry Rollins, as "ecstatic truth."

Also, of marginal but hilarious interest, is this interview with the BBC where Herzog is actually hit by the bullet of sniper in the hills of LA, and insists on continuing the interview regardless.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Gaahl, of black metal heroes Gorgoroth, is Gay

My friend Ayla notified me recently that the lead singer Gaahl of the black metal band Gorgoroth, can be counted among the ranks of the family. Which is to say he is a homo. Gaahl is perhaps one of the more clearly "evil" members of the black metal scene as he was convicted of torturing a man for six hours and was sentenced to 9 months in prison as a result.

In an issue of Rock Hard Magazine he claimed, “It doesn’t feel to me as if I’ve outed myself because up until now the whole thing was a non-issue for me. All this evolved very naturally. I feel how I feel and I’ve never made any secret about it.”

His outing is not only an amazing and heartwarmingly pleasant surprise, but also undermines elements of the black metal scene who want to push it out of the purity of satanism and toward the clearly objectionable Nazi elements.

I've included clips from the VBS TV episode on black metal, starting with the brief history of black metal.

Part 1:
Gorgoroth & the Black Metal Tradition

Part 5:
Involves Gaahl himself leading VBS interviewers up a mountain and staring blankly at an interview question for over a full minute.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Myths about what vegetarians want to eat as alternatives to _____

Although I had a recent run-in with a lobster, and some clam chowder, I have been a vegetarian for about 17 years (starting at age 11), and in all of those years I have come up with a list of my least favorite attempts to accommodate vegetarians. So in no particular order, here goes:

1) The salad bar:
This was often my alternative in some fast food restaurants and middle-brow chain restaurants as in TGIFridays, Max & Erma's, etc. It generally lead to a belly full of ice-berg lettuce and chow-mein noodles, and some mass produced chocolate pudding. I have to say that after years of consuming this is I was thoroughly anti-salad. This has changed only in the last few years. Unfortunately, most mass produced food outlets put chicken or a panoply of meats on their salads, so I've rarely had to test my mettle whilst away from home on a sustained salad diet.

2) Hummus and Roasted Red Peppers:
I've generally very much enjoyed Lebanese/Mediterranean inspired foods in general (falafel generally remains in my top ten, particular in its Sudanese or Syrian variants), but the prevalence of this particular item in delis, bagel shops, and departmental events as the only two-birds-with-one-stone vegan/vegetarian option pretty much makes my stomach turn now. Especially because the slimy red peppers are either half-frozen, or just greasy. Roasted red peppers stiffen my resolve on the fact that the only reason peppers exist are to be spicy. Without this raison d'être, I can't see why peppers should maintain their expensive existence.

3) The Portabella
I am not altogether sick of this alternative, but at BBQs this has been proffered by sensitive folks for vegetarians, usually marinated in olive-oil and wine. That mushrooms could be understood to replace the protein and flavor of meat has always surprised me.

4) Morning Star Farms Veggie-Burgers:
With the consistency and flavor of a kitchen sponge these are proffered often when invited over to dinner, and the host has either forgotten you are vegetarian or lacks the imagination to make something not steeped in a meat stock of some sort. Generally these are pulled out the "tisk tisking" like observation of "I don't know how you get enough nutrition on that diet."

5) Gazpacho:
Tomato soup tastes like bile. Cold, greasy and flavored this characteristic of tomato soup is only amplified.

6) Baked Potatoes:
These are another fast food favorite usually dried out from being in the oven too long with a dollop of sour cream and dried out chives. I haven't had one in years.

7) Beans and Rice:
Left-over from the days where the "incomplete proteins" myth reigned supreme, I actually still like these, but actually cooked. I am fucking Mexican and I know how these things should taste, so a bowl of boiled rice and kidney beans with salt would not and should not "cut it." Moreover, the beans should always be black. Here is a recipe that is passable.

8) Boiled Buckwheat:
This really only occurred in my undergraduate institution, in my few limited years as a vegan. But the flavor of buckwheat on its own is one of the more unpleasant food flavors I've ever encountered. Needless to say I lost weight in college despite the weekly beer deposits.

9) Uncooked silken tofu:
Silken tofu is usually produced to make sauces and pudding like substances. It is not a salad topping or good idea for casserole dishes.

10) Herring-dip:
For some reason my grandparents thought fish were biologically vegetables for a long time. I tend to regard the flavor of anything that tastes like the environment it lived in, i.e. a river or ocean, to be rather nauseous, so naturally this was not my favorite non-alternative.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Czech Art Collective Punished for Mushroom Cloud Prank

Members of Ztohoven, a Czech art collective, hacked into a television network to superimpose a mushroom cloud over a weather report. Each has has been fined $3,210 each. They were acquitted of greater charges. The artists were trying to show that the network fails to carry out its mission of public broadcasting.

According to the New York Times Article, members claimed the action on Czech Television, which Ztohoven titled “Media Reality,” was “not meant to be threatening but to land softly on the public consciousness so that people won’t let themselves be brainwashed.”

The artists just wanted to startle viewers “from their lethargy.”

Watch this to kill time

An animated short Created by London-based Zeitguised, with sound design by Michael Fakesch and commissioned by Zirkel Gallery.

Peripetics by ZEITGUISED from NotForPaper on Vimeo.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

It's Obama

(I stole this from John but I thought it was clever enough to repost).

America has proved that it is not too racist to vote in its own interest. As commentator Gary Younge put it, the election seems a referendum on whether Americans care about their jobs and income more than they hate black people.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Dog Poop Consumption

Hollywood has taken up the habit of attempting to eat some of the stray poop laying about the neighborhood while we take walks in the mornings. I have to say for all of the discussion I have generally about the minutia of pooping every day, I find myself a largely repulsed, and a little ill every time she does or tries to eat the feces of other dogs. And since we live in Lawrenceville there is dog poop everywhere. Perhaps, this is a kind of anthropomorphic image that I am projecting on her, like that all cute things should only consume things that are likewise cute, as in sugary, pink foam. A similar anthropomorphism I think occurs when we project the cuteness of babies across species, so that in any other species that has this attribute likewise requires, indeed needs, the care and caresses demanded by babies.


This is a lesson many learn of the chihuahuas owned by a lesbian couple in the neighborhood, who bark madly, particularly when approached by children: lesson being that cute things do not necessarily want to cuddle or even have contact with humans. A former Portland roommate of mine had a dog (Beija) with a similar temperament. Beija urinated in my room several times when I moved in and barked at my every approach, but when I walked her we were best friends, and she is ultimately one of the reasons I wanted a dog at all. Her manifesto "not a stuffed animal" can be read here

Two sites of interest document some of the reasons dogs consume dog poop:

20 Reasons Why dogs eat poop

Dog Eating

Some of the interesting reasons include that dogs learn from their owners (who pick up poop in bags) and do so accordingly, recent mothers protecting their litter of puppies from predators--eliminating evidence of prey-worthy vulnerable pups, poor nutrition from actual foods, and obviously because they like the taste. Although I cannot account for the psychological reasons or the taste possibility, I know Hollywood gets plenty of nutritious food because we often given her broccoli stems, carrots, and fruit bits, as well as holistic food dog treats--yeah, we are that kind of dog owners.

I am hoping with time this tendency will fade particularly because I just imagine all the ways that the consumed poop could emerge out of Hollywood's body, through her skin, etc., which still makes me a bit queasy.

For some reason I accidentally made it such that no comments could be left for this post. That has been changed. Comment away on my dog poop problems.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Significant Moment for African-American Studies

This statement is perhaps redundant, given the fact that the first African-American president is poised to win the upcoming election, but it is precisely the early touting of Obama as the post-racial candidate at the beginning of the election that makes this moment so interesting. Besides spurring some fascinating discussion as the the meaning of African-American identity (particularly with regard to slave-ancestry) there is some notion that the possible Obama presidency symbolizes the notion that the melting pot has come to its fullest realization and now we can look past the divisive racial past (despite its persistent material effects). Indeed, a great deal of White Americans who disdain racial prejudice as attitude, want little to do with ameliorating its persistent effects

On the other hand consistently controversial figure Walter Benn Michaels has written an interesting piece (containing a few massive leaps of logic) in the New Left Review claiming that Obama represents the new face of neo-liberalism. Michaels reminds how, to paraphrase, political oppression expressed in the economic sphere, such as the "glass ceiling," is generally not in the interest of capitalism. However, this is not necessarily how history unfolds (in Capital reading group we discussed this as a sort of long standing form of primitive accumulation?).

We can see the cultural reverberations of this discourse in figures like Amy Winehouse whose national and historical remove allows her to help institute the rise of neo-soul in popular music. A recent article in the nation suggests Winehouse is white woman who wants to be a black man.

And let's not forget Solange Knowles, who in an effort to differentiate herself from the stylings of her sister Beyonce, has also embarked on marketing herself as a proponent of neo-soul. A surprising video here positions her amidst footage of African/African-American struggle, reduced to some extent to fun-loving historical spectacle (evinced in the moment where Knowles and her back-up duck when almost hit with the fire-hose footage directed at Civil Rights protesters from the early 1960s).

The video moves forward through history (and a sequined tank), where black people now live on the moon, and where the song's protagonist is reunited with her love object. Is this the love song to the destiny of African-Americans? Is this the hidden trajectory of African-American struggle toward inter-galactic control? Is this the final supercession of the glass ceiling that becomes science-fiction set on the moon?

It reminds of much more critical, but nonetheless reintegrated films of Guy Debord, where mass media footage is deployed as an effort of "detournement" for revolutionary purposes.

The music of the Civil Rights era and the discourse of post-racial America is now deployed to empty that moment of its content and critique, which may extend to our own moment. Obama is both the fulfillment of the promise of the Civil Rights era and its reduction to the construct of glass ceilings.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Militarization and Culture

In a recent issue of Inside Higher Education Keith Gandal writes,

"If English wants again to be in the position Brooks [Peter Brooks, former MLA President] remembered of the 1980s of exporting its analytic and having an influence even in the larger world outside of academia, then it needs to attempt to develop a more accessible style of expression as well as to import from other disciplines. My suggestion for a new direction in literary criticism is what might be called “mobilization studies,” by which I mean not merely the study of war literature, but much more broadly the study of the wide-ranging social and literary effects of mobilizing armies and populations for war and demobilizing them. Analogous to the new sub-field of social-military history developed by historians, “mobilization studies” will be situated at the intersection of policy history, social history, and literary analysis. It was heartening that this year’s Hemingway Society conference invited a social-military historian to give a keynote address. In terms of literary criticism’s engagement both with the issue of war and with other disciplines, let’s hope it is a sign of things to come."

This is something that I am increasingly interested in, perhaps at the level of a dissertation. Discussing documentaries about Cold War demilitarization, War on terror remilitarization, and the global imperatives of the weapons industry. Not sure on a vector or even an object with regard to this issue, but this is something I want to keep in mind for the future in general.

To this end I recently presented a paper at the "Histories of Violence" conference at George Mason University two weeks ago. It was a small conference but generally quite interesting. As with most Cultural Studies events over the last few years, the notion of the biopolitical (as per Foucault) was by far the most used explanatory vehicle. I did meet some similarly interested people working with similar topics that tended to be less anxious and awkward than most academics I tend to meet, which make conferences a little painful. Some particularly interesting work on mechanical means of seeing the battlefield, and questions of violence as undermining the discourses of human rights.

The optics of warfare as the overlap with the aesthetics of representations of war seem to me to be a fundamentally interesting notion, particularly derived from Paul Virilio. Because of this interest I tend to teach the non-canonical War and Cinema, in every one of my media studies and film classes (2 so far). The students tend to find the text slightly confusing, but I am finding it easier to teach. The stakes are a little diffused for these kids in a text that draws parallels between advances in the technologies of "seeing" the battlefield and those of filmmaking, to indicate that war making has become aestheticized, and thus in Western culture seeing and destruction have become coincident. This is perhaps most clear with the "smart bombing" technologies that involve a sort of "point-click-bomb" concept:

I myself find Virilio's discussion of vision and destruction interesting when placed against the work of geographer and photographer Trevor Paglen who uses astro-photograhy to document not only military surveillance satellite technology but also top-secret bases located in Tonopah Valley, Nevada.

Friday, October 10, 2008

A little Los Crudos for good measure, also

A video for their song "Asesinos"--murderers.

I actually played the slobbering fan at a Limp Wrist show to Martin (former lead singer for Los Crudos) at their show in Portland. When I was 16 having a queer latino to look up to in the hardcore scene was pretty profound, even if it does produce a barely coherent, star-struck 23 year old.

Can't Stop Watching Kylesa

I love this album, although I am a little late.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Goatee Questionnaire

Those who know me know my intense loathing for the goatee, particularly in its "van dyke" form--usually a fu-manchu mustache that then connects to the goatee. To me the "van dyke" reminds me of a mouth emerging from a brillo pad. This is especially the case for dudes whose facial hair does not match their hair color.

Every year after the first three weeks of teaching college freshman I notice that the male students' faces suddenly accumulating unshaved parts, and the goatee is by far the most popular of these "transition to manhood," "out from under the watchful gaze of my parents" grooming changes. I find this at once hilarious, sweet, but also ridiculous.

On the other hand, a full beard (when it can be evenly grown), can enhance the most fugly of faces. But I think I've been a little intolerant of everyone who selects this particular facial hair configuration. I've, over the last few years, even seen a few men whose appearance has been enhanced by the goatee. So I concocted this little questionnaire to give those wanting an opportunity to grow a goatee, a get out of jail free card:

Section 1:

1) Are you a contractor?

2) Are you a gay leather daddy?

3) Are you a transperson or gender queer?

4) Are you a devout Muslim?

5) Is your name Vladimir Ilyich Lenin?

6) Are you African or African-American and keep your facial hair tightly trimmed?

(If you answered "yes" for any of the last 4 questions, do not continue. You are officially absolved for your goatee and can keep your facial hair).

Section 2:

1) Do you agree with the following statement: "Music has never really surpassed the 1990s grunge era. The only comparable era to this moment is the 1960s?"

2) Do you feel your goatee adds a little "danger" to your otherwise pedestrian look?

3) Are you afraid that if you shave your goatee that it will only expose the utter lack of chin you have?

4) Do you regard the goatee as a very contemporary look?

5) Do you find people regard you as a juvenile without your goatee?

6) Are you a regular user of marijuana?

7) Do you find yourself walking around in public wearing sweats or pajama bottoms more than two days out of the week?

8) Do you own an acoustic guitar?

9) Is growing a goatee one thing you have done to accomodate your sense of your own decrease in sex appeal or to address a recent life-altering change (as in a divorce)?

10) Do appreciate what is known as a "landing strip" or completely shaven "parts" on the models you look at regularly in your preferred pornographic material?

11) Do you own any vertically striped dress shirts, particularly in pastel colors?

12) Do you own more than one container of after-shave or cologne?

13) Do you tan regularly?

14) Are you a freshman/freshperson in college?

(If you answered "yes" to more than two questions above you should get that razor out and start whacking).

Please post any other possible questions below.

Below is a typology of facial hair courtesy of wikipedia:

According to the image above (and blog observer Mark), I was wrong. The type of goatee mustache combo I identified was really called "douche bag."

1 - Stubble, 2 - Moustache, 3 - Goatee, 4 -Douchebag, 5 - Mutton-chops, 6 - Friendly Muttonchops, 7 - Van Dyke, 8 - Full beard

Monday, September 29, 2008

Kant Attack Ad.

In the spirit of elections season philosophy graduate students, who do not have to teach composition and therefore have too much time on their hands, put together this faux ad.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

New Bruce LaBruce Film and the Question of "Emo"

The below is a trailer for Bruce LaBruce's new film Otto; or, Up With Dead People, set to CocoRosie.

(watch it before youtube bans it again)

Bruce LaBruce is a Canadian art-porn director whose former films Skin Flick, No Skin Off My Ass, and Hustler White sparked a great deal of controversy. This was particularly the case with his focus on gay sex between nazi skinheads, in the skin titles above, and a scene where an amputee penetrates another man with his leg stump in Hustler White (rumor has it someone had a heart attack in the Homo-a-Go-Go Festival whilst watching said scene).

The film looks like the highest production value LaBruce has had thus far, although I haven't seen all of his films. And it includes shots from an abandoned amusement park in the middle of Berlin, which I broke into last summer with a friend.* However, stylistically (and this may be a result of it being a flick focused on Zombies) the characters and the themes circulate around what may be understood, in the contemporary, as an "emo" aesthetic, which is to say some combination of older 90's "emo" fashion and the goth subculture's german expressionist, sex fascist visual iconography.

The reemergence of "emo" from the grave of the 1990s I have to say I find strangely troubling. What first started with bands like Moss Icon, Rites of Spring, wool sweaters, Winnie the Pooh imagery, and an emphasis on the power of punk-influenced crescendo has somehow gleaned, in its movement in the undercurrents of the internet, etc. the lace umbrella, and oddly over-gelled 1970s razor hair styles, and an emphasis on suffering. The musical and political trappings seem to have been all but lifted out of this new zombie "emo." I remember as a teenager watching the emo bands play with hardcore and crust punk bands in dirty basements, because Columbus had few venues for such bands so they all aggregated under the few that existed, I never could have predicted the strange places "emo" has sprouted up in. And despite the clashing aesthetics at times there seemed to be a kind of solid set of principles (critical of authority and exploitation) that underpinned these different genres or movements.

A student of mine this semester explored the emo riots in Mexico City. Where emo kids were targeted by the children of the bourgeoisie.

Here is an MTV report on the issue:

According, to the video the emo fashion seems clearly unconnected to observers from a politics or a clear musical aesthetic. Rather, it is a subculture often linked to "suffering" and also some interaction between bisexuality (goth) and homosexuality. The historical connection to the earlier version of this subculture, the importance of the archival knowledges that are commonly associated with (musically based) subcultures, are almost altogether absent. Instead, the word "emo" and the visual markers of the movement have survived the graveyard of cyberspace. This is clearly an instance of a purely postmodern subculture. At the same time the search for a meaningful type of expression for queer youth in Mexico (where machismo continues to rule) seems to have some exigence. For me it is difficult for me not to see that this is clearly a kind of need for queer youth and allies to have some social glue (be it aesthetic, etc.), but I have a difficult time dealing with my ambivalence to the subculture's undead status, wiped free of all memory of historical precedent, and lacking in contextual markers, like a postmodern zombie lumbering and hungry for consumerism.

*We seemed to be constantly fleeing from the grounds keeper who sped around in a black honda.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tranny, Please!

The statement above I hope encapsulates the videos below which prominently feature trans folks. It supposedly originated with Project Runway's Christian Siriano, who is perhaps one of the more embarrassing members of the family to be featured in the show's programming, particularly noteworthy for his over use of the word "fierce" and his horrific interpretation of a beehive combined with a '70s razor cut, by way of early 90's emo.

Here he is fetishizing Asian's:

Cazwell, "I seen Beyonce at Burger King."

Calpernia "What not to ask a transperson."

Although, I think Calpernia is right in offering a corrective to seemingly well meaning people who read her as a transperson and want the details, she is at times surprisingly condescending, and possibly a classist. I don't really want to make a judgment about whether Calpernia is actually a classist, but I realize there is often problems articulating critique and elevating one's self or group in the mode of humor or comedy. I tend to think that comedy is largely a reactionary mode of expression (the comedic narrative often demands a wedding at its conclusion).

My suspicions, I guess would jive with Henri Bergson's theory about laughter, that it is a fundamentally social gesture, "it's function is to intimidate by humiliating." He links this in particular to how slapstick comedy tends to render individuals as behaving as "mechanisms." So laughter operates as a social corrective to what Bergson calls "antisocial" tendencies. Regis Debray, author of Praise Be Our Lords: A political education, notes that Che Guevara and Fidel Castro were suspicious and horrified by jokes and were never seen laughing. For Debray this suggests their assumed relationship to the "divinity" of history. I am not clear on what to make of this connection however.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Sarah Palin Supports Brutal Ex-Gay Ministries

Check it out here.

Ex-gay ministries and religious demands that one submit their sexual needs to the behest of their religion have produced immense psychological problems and higher rates of suicide for the gays caught in the cross fire. As in Stuart Mathis who committed suicide in front of his LDS Church in an effort to change hearts of those at his church. Let's also not forget the four times rate of teen suicide amongst queer youth in the United States.

Also, this video looking for the mythical gay republican, does a little shit talk and is a little over done with regards to the "sassy" quotient (forwarded thanks to lil' john).

Personally, I've never understood why anyone who is queer is anything but a full fledged left-wing radical. It seems to me the different type of sociality that emerges from same-sex desire demands a rethinking of the social in general. For more on this check out Leo Bersani.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Bicycling and Urbanity.

From Boing Boing TV. The following video depicts a July 25th rally where a police officer knocks a cyclist to the ground:

Boing Boing reports, "Although a judge ruled in 2006 that the monthly Critical Mass bicycle rides could proceed without a permit, the NYPD's stance remains somewhat adversarial. Though the city has not been enforcing the controversial parade permit law when it comes to Critical Mass, police have been ticketing cyclists during the ride for such infractions as not having the required lights.

A representative for TIMES UP! tells us that the cyclist in this video was arrested, held for 26 hours, and charged with attempted assault and resisting arrest."

Although I am a bicyclist myself and I am sympathetic to those submitted to arbitrary police harassment and violence, I wonder if the tensions that arise between cyclists and the rest of the urban community (commuters included I suppose) are not symptomatic of some larger shifts going on in urbanism in the United States in general. Certainly, we should connect Critical Mass to a wider and longer tradition of bicycle activism in the city, like the 1960s Dutch movement the White Bicycle Plan which placed free white bicycles around Amsterdam to discourage the city's restructuring for easier automobile commuting, at the same time it also either exemplifies or partakes in the petroleum crisis that encourages the white flight back into city centers and all the boutiquing and negative gentrification attendant with this flight (e.g. any theory by Richard Florida). Moreover, yesterday's National Public Radio broadcast included a story about realtors cashing in on these trends, here.

The following interview with George W. Bush at the Beijing Olympics sets these relationships into an even more interesting relationship. Where Bush discusses being a teenager riding bicycles with the Chinese people and in the background newly produced automobiles rumble through the streets of Beijing--"look at them now!" The bicycle is some sort of communist throw back, or at least an index of a backward economic situation.

As Beijing progresses in its petroleum hungry capitalist development, the US regresses backward into a bicycling and the arms of the "creative class".

Monday, August 18, 2008

I got a dog, named Hollywood

She is a one year-old pittbull mix, and is incredibly sweet. She has some swollen tatas from having given birth and then leaving her puppies in a bus station. Here is a picture of her from the Animal Rescue League website



Here is her official video:

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Iraq Graphic, Time-Based Illustration of Occupation

Click the red button

Although this is an apt illustration of the deluge of blood in Iraq, particularly in Baghdad, this image also seems to emerge in tandem from the actual experiences of U.S. soldiers in their aerial "point-click" bombing in this second incursion in Iraq and elsewhere. This piece resonates with Paul Virilio's comments on the new visibilities and blindnesses attendant to modern warfare, in his War & Cinema book.

Reading Capital Volume 1 with David Harvey

This summer a group of fellow graduate students decided to read Karl Marx's Capital Volume 1 together in a weekly reading group. This follows from last summer's illuminating reading of selections from Louis Althusser's works including Lenin & Philosophy, Reading Capital, (the late) Philosophy of the Encounter, and For Marx. We have been reading about a hundred pages a week (approximately 3-6 chapters depending on their length), with significant set-backs due to vacations.

An additional resource emerged with David Harvey, author of the famous The Condition of Postmodernity and most recently A Brief History of Neo-Liberalism internet videos lecturing for a class devoted to the volume here.

The first video does an excellent job introducing readers to the different and competing disciplines at work in Capital--philosophy, classical economic theory, utopian socialist traditions of the moment etc. Additionally, Harvey notes the importance through the videos of the different levels at which Marx is working with capital, e.g. the first chapter on the commodity is not historical (as it seems at first), but traces the logic of the commodity as if it's (and its eventual abstraction into money form) could be temporally separated into distinct historical moments. One of the more interesting aspects that Harvey acknowledges is that Marx's "dissertation" in philosophy was a work on Epicurus, one of the founders of atomist theory. Atomism posited the emergence of the universe as following from the accidental collision of the building blocks (atoms) of solid bodies. This is worth noting for those who see Althusser's later work considering the "encounter" as somehow a break with or tangential to the Marxist tradition. If we want to follow up on these physicalist accounts of history and the development of social groupings or political bodies, considering, what Patricia Clough, calls Marx's "thermodynamic" account of class struggle is paramount (for her this kind of means a move to Deleuze and Foucault).

The third video just on the third chapter of Capital, Harvey emphasizes the importance of money in Marx's system, as not only the height of the development of the commodity, but the logic of the commodity that divorces it from the value of its substance (e.g. gold). Harvey does an excellent job throughout these video's debunking, what I find, to be an excess of cultural studies with its overemphasis (partially due to the Frankfurt School) on the commodity fetish. For him this is something Marx sets up in order to be deconstructed. This line of reasoning would tend to support Althusser's suggestion (in a footnote of "Marxism & Humanism") that the discussion of commodity fetishism and reification so emphasized by Adorno, Horkheimer, etc. is actually a misunderstanding of Marx's purposes in discussing these topics. Although, Harvey works hard to deemphasize the allusive aspects of Marx's, at times, quite literary language, it works to support a general interrogation of certain social/cultural theorists' and practitioners' failure to read past chapter 1. I find his critique amusing, and useful if at times a little vulgar.

Besides being a lucid and analytic explicator of the significance of Capital, Harvey himself is interested in the continuing importance of political-economy in explicating deep social changes under the regime of what he calls "flexible accumulation."

Monday, August 4, 2008

Two Modes of Lollypop

Kalup Linzy and Shaun Leonardo lip sync to the Hunter and Jenkins tune, which was banned from the radio in the 1930s. Even though completed in 2006, it appears, in the present context, as a premature reply to Lil Wayne's 2008 "Lollipop," which despite its catchy track and at times interesting visual effects, largely invests in gratuitous hip-hop video cliches (shots of a huge limo filled with eager ladies, and opening shots in an incredibly expensive hotel) and uses too much vocal vocoder.*

The predominance of voice distorting technologies along with the rise of explicitly 1990s house beats on hip-hop makes me pause at the increasing techno-ification of billboard hip-hop in general. Is this the sign of its imminent death as per the NAS's most recent album? or the increasing emphasis on hook driven singles as opposed to talented lyricism?

*Then again, I have "Lollipop" on my iTunes queue.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Qualifying Exam Logics, 1st attempt

So the PhD program I attend in Literary & Cultural Studies requires that after coursework has been completed (roughly 2-3 years into the program, depending on whether or not you have a masters degree) you must complete a qualifying exams in order to continue onto the dissertation stage of your PhD. This involves not only choosing a nation and a period (e.g. 17th century British, 20th century American, etc.) but also compiling three lists upon which you will be examined after 12 months of reading. These lists include your primary texts (novels, poetry, drama, memoirs, short stories, radio broadcasts, films, etc.), secondary texts (criticism and histories, although the status of this list is largely uncertain, dare I say "liminal"), and an approach list (postcolonial theory, feminist/queer theory, Marxism/cultural materialism, Cultural Sociology, etc.).

The fact that our department requires that we come up with the lists is somewhat unusual in our field where often lists are just handed to students depending on their interests. While our approach has the benefit of tailoring our lists so that their cohere is not a problem, i.e. when the approach is feminist theory then the primary texts may largely treat upon issues that are germane to such theories, etc., it also has the effect of producing a distinct and sometimes profound sense of indirection for those compiling their lists and in the reading process in general.

I am at the early stages of compiling lists. Initially my advisor suggested that I consider looking into Latino Lit. in the U.S. in order to specialize for the purposes of marketing myself once I have completed my PhD. Moreover, I would have the benefit of being a "native informant" on the subject as a first generation immigrant myself. Although, I have read very little U.S. Latino Lit. my initial fears were that a great deal of this literature would somehow be the horrors of hybrity and alterity as embodied in the work of the late Gloria Anzaldua's works. However, I decided to give it a deeper look as a final semester of course work reignited my interest in the types of questions that literature poses to the social and political.

I actually discovered some very interesting possibilities with regard to the canon of Latin American Literature in the United States: there is a strong class critique throughout as well as a focus on urbanity. Cubano Jose Marti (I believe one of the founders of the Cuban Communist Party), for example, spent some time as a journalist in New York City writing critiques at the turn of the century about American imperial power. However, the questions posed by Marti and others get displaced with the discussion of hybrity and the emphasis on subaltern subjectivities, political ontologies, "otherness,"etc. I have to admit that I initially found these discussions to be rather compelling when I was an undergraduate, but my two years in Portland Oregon's anarchist political scene and my first three years of graduate education has moved me toward much more vulgar versions of Marxism--class isn't as central as a politico-economic critique, the relationship of base/superstructure, materiality, and the problem of the totality. So my first inclination (which will most likely change) is to think about these celebrations of subjectivity as the rise of the neo-liberal subject, as the 1990s coincides with the rise of the There Is No Alternative (TINA) mentality. I hope to read Cold-War American Literature (both Latino and Gringo) through the present in order to explain this cultural metamorphosis.

This shift is what interests me more than the literature itself. My ultimate interests are the ways in which Globalization represents a profound shift in notions like the autonomy of culture, the relationship of superstructure to base, and the universal situation it demands and produces.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Rapidly Expanding Porn Star

Francois Sagat, French-Slovenian porn celebrity engaging in a narcissistic youtube piece. But he is all that is unholy about hot.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Juvenilization of Political Critique

There are countless attempts to introduce agitprop media onto the internet for wider distribution. This sometimes based on the rather naive notion that to place something on the internet is to literally make it available to all.* I have recently become acquainted with two instances of this as phenomenon which involve cartoon cats and puppets discussing neo-liberalism. These clips below are two rather clever instances of these efforts.

Neoliberalism (as per Hardt & Negri), w/ Boing Boing TV

The Pinky Show, on Illegal Immigration

Certainly they are only cursorily aimed at children and perhaps the cartoon and puppetry at work in these pieces is aimed a kind of low-budget production with some aesthetic effect--to inject seemingly subversive material in the inauspicious trappings of children's programming. Moreover, there is clearly a history of radical comics, cartooning, and puppetry (as Art & Revolution and Bread & Puppets will remind). However, I wonder if the overall aesthetic suggests the pursuit of some ideal addressee for the didactic--the juvenilized viewer addressed as if approaching the hermeneutic situation without prejudices. Along with the double function of introducing uncomplicated versions of leftist argumentation, I wonder if we do not also accrue an addressee whose image can only be a child. Might we read these as representative of some crisis for the left in the West smacking of Takashi Murakami's claims that the infantile obsession in Japanese culture emerges from an experience of national "castration" by the United States? As if leftist critiques in the faces of the radical restructuring of global capitalism and le pensee unique (aka TINA) can only emerge from the mouths of anthropomorphic kittens and sock puppets.

* which already assumes too much, as if search engines were without heirarchization or algorithmic meddling with results. As is the common assumption of college freshmen, still in love with twitter and facebook. Not to mention the radical global inequalities the underpin internet access in the first place despite misguided efforts to produce crank-powered lap-tops for the Third World.

A Book Not From the Exam List

Miracle of the Rose Miracle of the Rose by Jean Genet

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Probably my least favorite of the Genet's novels. Although this may have had to do with the dated translation of slang, I found the trajectory of the plot to be a little unsatisfying. This novel mingles the exaltation and abjection in which the narrator revels of the men of Founterevault prison and the boys of the juvenile correctional colony, Mettray.

May have been the inspiration for one of three episodes in Todd Haynes' film Poison.

View all my reviews.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Mike Tamburo playing homemade instrument

Mike Tamburo is one of my favorite Pittsburgh musicians.* His music could be characterized as experimental/electronic/american-folk. Below is some footage of him playing hybrid instruments for a Memorial Day "Build your own instrument" show. The second instrument is, as one of the audience exclaims, "so metal."

Also, you can listen to his other works here, plus some free downloads.

*God, how far am I from my teenage hardcore purism?

Monday, July 14, 2008

This is fucking hilarious

A friend posted this on my myspace profile and I cannot stop watching it. It is a sort of fictional panel discusion between various female celebrities, a former, reputed second wave feminist, and a Brooklyn housewife over the significance of videos produced under the moniker "The Worm." The woman imitating Madonna, Cher, Britney Spears, Winona Ryder, and Gloria Steinem is surprisingly adept, and if you visit the filmmaker's own myspace page his reading list includes various surrealist classics etc. I suppose I am a little leary of this being as amusing as it is given the filmmaker/central thematic is myspace friends with Squeaky of Marilyn Manson fame, but I suppose even human-proportioned embodiments of the Id cannot be free of such influences.

Also, check out this Madonna video to youtubers pulling Henry Jenkinses by producing their own videos of her 4 minutes song, fiasco

Parodied, here:

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Grover Furr Interview

Grover Furr is an interesting anomaly as a member of the Marxist Literary Group and MLA's Radical Caucus, who has argued that the reign of Stalin was actually not as clearly totalitarian as has historically been asserted, and was rather a moment of the emergence of some democratic reform for the Soviet Union. In the interview here he offers some insights into the question of Kruschev's "Secret Speech" the revealed the atrocities committed by Stalin. He questions the validity of Kruschev's motives for revealing these atrocities and suggests to a Russian audience the importance of the reappraisal of Stalin.

As someone who is not a scholar of either Soviet History or Russian, I am of course of two minds about it. I wonder if there might be some figures not worth recuperating from the annals of radical history. The question of Stalin remains nonetheless.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Significance of 1968

This is perhaps one of the most debated moments in Leftist history. The question of the failures and possibilities of this moment continue to inform how we regard the possibilities of utopian struggle in this moment. Below is Slavoj Zizek's interview on Democracy Now discussing the meaning of this moment. He correctly points out that the backward look to 1968 tend to read it as the moment of sexual liberation, personal expression, and creativity instead of a moment of intense international unrest, mass strikes, anti-colonial resistance, etc. Thus, 1968 remains a moment whose meaning becomes intense ideological struggle.

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Also, here is Barbara Epstein, Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz, and John Sanbonmatsu discussing the effectiveness of the strategies of 1968. What strikes me as interesting about this second interview is the ways in which the hedonism, the free love, and what is called "expressionist" aspects of these movements in the United States get connected to late capitalism's emphasis on consumerism. Issues of repression and torture by COINTELPRO forces are also treated upon. And John Sanbonmatsu engages in a slightly predictable, though seemingly out of context, rant against post-structuralism as the vehicle for the depoliticization of academia. If this is the venue of retreat for the 1960s radicals as many have argued, and the right (misreading Gramsci) fear, I suppose we may regard the temporary ascendance of post-structuralism in particular humanities departments as abstracting conversation outside of the bounds of everyday politics, etc. However, I don't believe the wider social relevance of this change is necessarily in operation to the extent Sobanmatsu suggests. Especially given how critical he is of the 1968 generation.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Radical Composition Syllabus - Terrorism

A fellow PhD. student and I decided that whilst we are graduate students in English, at a tech university that builds the machinery to kill tomorrow's Iraqis we wanted the freshmen to at least have an idea of the stakes of their eventual careers. Together we developed a syllabus that explores: "Is terrorism merely a destructive force bent on undermining Western civilization? Is it a politically necessary tactic or strategy? Is it used only by the powerless to resist domination? Or do powerful states and institutions also use terror for their own purposes? What forms of protest are labeled as “terrorism” and who has the authority to make such distinctions?" This syllabus works well with the comp. curriculum here because all of it is based on analyzing and mapping arguments, all before students can contribute their own positions.

A great deal of the syllabus uses Samuel Huntington's article as a foil: an article that we did not assign until midsemester so that it would appear an illegitimate. This seems necessary given that H's position is largely the position students come to the class with--the assumption that terrorism is a response to Western culture and its open society, rather than a historical series of political decisions and interventions (Mamdani is great for responding to this). Beginning with Kellner's article on globalization works well to contextualize terrorism not as some primordial, pre-modern specter emerging to haunt humanity but a response to contemporary, shifting global forces and relationships, as well as in the context of an international series of interconnected resistances. Several of the articles emphasize the stakes of nationalism which are obliterated by the current media discourse that confuses insurgent with terrorist. I also highly recommend coupling the first two chapters of Mike Davis' short history of the car bomb (a very accessible, short book) with the documentary The Weather Underground (trailer below) to highlight the homegrown aspects of terrorism as well.

I generally like to do something a little more philosophical to finish off the semester to open up more room before the students complete their last paper, in which they take a position of their own. The Baudrillard fell flat unfortunately because of the dense discussion of good vs. evil which drew students to speculate on human nature which works a little counter to the material from the course that emphasizes historical precedent. I am trying to use a chapter from Erich Fromm's Escape from Freedom this summer to redefine the meaning of "freedom" in the contemporary context indicating that Protestantism and capitalist selfish individualism both participate in the production of subjects afraid to exercise their freedoms. It might be a little more accessible. This is an old piece from the psychoanalyst of the Frankfurt School, but it is by far some of their more accessible work.

Suggested Readings:

Ahmad, Eqbal. “Terrorism: Theirs and Ours.” Presentation. University of Colorado, Boulder. 12
Oct. 1998.

Ali, Tariq. “Mid-Point in the Middle East?” The New Left Review 38, March-April 2006. New York: Verso.

Baudrillard, Jean. “L’Esprit du Terrorisme.” Trans. Michel Valentin. The South Atlantic
Quarterly 101.2 (2002): 403-415.

bin-Laden, Osama. Interview with Taysir Alluni. al-Jazeera. 20 Oct. 2001. Published as “Terror
for Terror.” Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama bin-Laden. Ed. Bruce
Lawrence. Trans. James Howarth. London: Verso, 2005. 106-129.

Davis, Mike. Buda’s Wagon: A Brief History of the Car Bomb. London: Verso. 2007.

Huntington, Samuel. “The Clash of Civilizations.” Foreign Affairs 72.3 (1993): 22-49.

Kellner, Douglas. “Theorizing Globalization.” Sociological Theory 20.3 (2002): 285-305.

Mamdani, Mahmood. “Good Muslin, Bad Muslim: A Political Perspective on Culture and
Terrorism.” American Anthropologist 104.3 (2002): 766-75.

Mann, Michael. Incoherent Empire. London: Verso, 2003.

Paglen, Trevor and A.C. Thompson. Torture Taxi: On the Trail of the CIA’s Rendition Flights.
NY: Melville House Publishing, 2006.

Wallerstein, Immanuel. “America and the World: The Twin Towers as Metaphor.” Charles R.
Lawrence II Memorial Lecture, Brooklyn College, 5 Dec. 2001.

Alternative Readings:

Fromm, Erich. Escape From Freedom. New York: Routledge, 1942.

Ohiopyle camping

Ohiopyle State Park (
is a beautiful park in South Western PA. Swimming holes in cold rivers and hiking up Appalachian foothills. Below is a non-sensical mash up of images by another graduate student camper. Highlights included: getting completely soaked from a weekend of pure rain, graduate student incapacity to deal with the travails of nature, favorite swimming hole invaded by fly-fisher fucks, mysterious knee foaming by one grad. student, and getting chided by Park Rangers for drinking.

End Vidal Sassoon, NOW!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Hit my Muxtape


Ecstatic Sunshine "Duck"
Santogold "L.E.S. Artistes"
Teriyaki Boyz "ZOCK ON!"
Iron Maiden "Die with your boots on"
Balinese Gamelan, 1941 "Genderan/Gamelan Gong"
Cro-Mags "Hard Times"
Ol' Dirty Bastard "Fire"
Mike Tamburo & his orchestra "ghosts of marumbey"
Black Dice "Kokomo"